Healthy Focus

Give Your Kids a Healthy Start in School

Before your child heads off to school this fall, play it safe by adding one more item to the to-do list: checking up on his or her physical health.

Even if your child is generally healthy, most states have minimum vaccination requirements that must be met before he or she takes a seat in the classroom. Your physician and school district will typically make those requirements clear before the bell rings. If not, the Immunization Action Coalition ( can help you find local information.

Make Time for the Doctor
Preparing for a healthy school year isn’t just about shots and injections. After vaccinations, the most important step you can take to keep your kids healthy is to teach them proper hand washing skills, to help them fight off the colds, flu, and viruses that may come their way in the classroom.

An annual back-to-school exam is a great opportunity for your doctor to assess your child’s development and for you to ask any questions. With the exception of ear infections and twisted ankles, pediatrics is generally a preventive medicine.

Experts agree that asking questions and stopping small problems before they become big ones is key to keeping children healthy. A good pediatrician will find out about a variety of issues, from measuring a child’s weight and height to assessing eating habits to asking whether he or she makes friends easily. Don’t be surprised if your pediatrician wants to know if your child has been wearing a seat belt, seeing a dentist, or engaging in other regular behaviors that may help keep him or her healthy on a daily basis.

To make an appointment at Paris Pediatrics for annual exams and immunizations, call 731-644-2747.

Spread of COVID-19 in Children
The Centers for Disease Control offers the following advice on how to stop the spread of COVID-19 in children.

Limit Time with Other Children
If children meet in groups, it can put everyone at risk. Children can pass this virus onto others who have an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Practice Social Distancing
The key to slowing the spread of COVID-19 is to limit contact as much as possible. While school is out, children should not have in-person playdates with children from other households. If children are playing outside their own homes, it is essential that they remain 6 feet from anyone who is not in their own household.

To help children maintain social connections while social distancing, help your children have supervised phone calls or video chats with their friends.

The CDC also recommends that all people 2 years of age and older wear a cloth face covering in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.

Clean Hands Often
Make sure children practice everyday preventive behaviors, such as washing their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This is especially important if you have been in a public place.

Change Travel Plans
Revise travel plans if they included non-essential travel.

Limit Time with People at Highest Risk of Severe Illness from COVID-19

  • If others in your home have an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, consider extra precautions to separate your child from those people.
  • If you are unable to stay home with your child while school is out, carefully consider who might be best positioned to provide child care. If someone at higher risk for COVID-19 will be providing care (older adult, such as a grandparent or someone with a chronic medical condition), limit your children’s contact with other people.
  • Consider postponing visits or trips to see older family members and grandparents. Connect virtually or by writing letters and sending via mail.

More info can be found at

Medication Musts
One of the other before-school challenges is to prepare children with asthma or allergies or those who need other daily medications to work with teachers and school administrators to get what they need.

A Shot in the Arm
No matter what age your child is, regular vaccinations are the best way to prevent serious illness. Requirements vary state by state, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer these guidelines:

Birth to 1: Hepatitis B and diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis

1 to 2: Hepatitis B, poliovirus, pneumococcal, varicella and influenza (annual)

2 to 4: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B booster

4 to 6: Measles, mumps and rubella booster, varicella and influenza (annual)

11 to 12: Measles, mumps and rubella booster and influenza (annual)

For more information on vaccine schedules, check with your pediatrician, or visit

Keeping Your Heart Young

Healthcare experts say there’s no magic pill to keep your heart young, but there is a magic formula: a heart-healthy diet, exercise and lifestyle. To achieve long-term heart health, you need to look at your whole lifestyle, but you don’t necessarily have to make major changes all at once. Thinking about a gradual transition to a healthier lifestyle is a surer road to success.

If you are having symptoms of a heart attack, hospitals are still the safest place, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Call 911 at the first sign of a heart attack or stroke.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race
If you’re just getting started with heart-friendly cardio exercise, try an activity that’s gentle on the newbie, such as swimming, walking or biking. Work up to 30 minutes per day three to five times a week, as you start to feel more in shape. But if you want to lose weight in addition to keeping your heart healthy, you should shoot for 45 minutes to an hour of exercise every day.

Personalize Your Lifestyle
When implementing changes try incorporating what you already know about your personality into your plan. If you’re not a morning person, for example, don’t schedule trips to the gym before work because it’s unlikely you’ll meet your goals.

And don’t panic if finding an extra 30 minutes in your day seems impossible. When it comes to heart health, you can do three 10-minute sessions rather than one half-hour session. Even an activity like gardening gets your blood pumping and makes your heart happy. Or, walk a few laps around a big box store when you’re running errands.

Making Time
It’s important to remember that heart health can’t be something you just squeeze in when you have time. You need to put heart health first, and that means reducing work-related stress, coming up with activities for your family that keep you all active, and monitoring your glucose and cholesterol levels, not just weight.

You may be pleasantly surprised by the stress reduction they experience as a result of exercising more. If nothing else, 30 minutes of exercise is 30 minutes of time to yourself to gain clarity and avoid e-mail, texts and the telephone.

7 Days of Heart Health Tips
MONDAY: Serve a simply grilled salmon for dinner tonight. Fatty fish like salmon, lake trout and albacore tuna have high levels of protective omega-3 fatty acids, which can help lower your cholesterol level and your risk of sudden cardiac arrest.

TUESDAY: Sign up for a class in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) through your local hospital or the American Red Cross at Nearly 80 percent of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests take place at home, and providing CPR immediately can double the victim’s survival chances.

WEDNESDAY: Add weight training to your exercise routine to help boost your endurance for aerobic activities that help your heart. Strength training twice a week also builds muscle mass, cuts down on body fat, and helps you maintain a healthy weight.

THURSDAY: Throw in some herbs when you do your grocery shopping. Reducing your salt intake by using fresh or dried herbs for flavor can help keep your blood pressure lower.

FRIDAY: Put on your dancing shoes and hit the floor! It’s a great way to get your partner to exercise with you, and can be done safely from the comfort of your own home.

SATURDAY: Laugh it up at a funny movie. The hormones released during a good hearty chuckle can help protect your heart and relieve stress, suggests medical research.

SUNDAY: Volunteer with your favorite charity group. Being part of a strong social network and interacting with other people can lessen your risk factors for heart disease and help you live longer. Just remember to social distance and wear your mask!