Boys face many challenges in terms of their physical and mental health.
Biologically-speaking, there’s evidence that boys are more vulnerable to health risks throughout the lifespan. Boys are more susceptible to illness, and more likely than girls to develop complications from infections. Mix in gender stereotypes that reward boys & men who take risks — and expect males to be “strong” and “invulnerable,’ which contribute to males’ reluctance to admit problems and seek help — and you can see why boys may need some extra support to value and care for their health and well-being.
Prioritizing these 11 factors will go a long way toward improving boys’ health:
Maintain An Active Lifestyle
The best thing you can do for your boy is to engage in regular exercise every day. They don’t necessarily need to take part in strenuous sports or activities either. Just getting outside with friends or family members helps. Being outdoors also reduces stress and encourages improved moods, better sleep patterns, and out-of-the-box thinking skills. Physical activity also contributes to a healthy outlook on life.
It is crucial for boys to manage stress in their lives by finding positive outlets that work well with their personalities. Some common ways of relieving stress include meditation techniques that help the mind think more clearly, such as yoga, art therapy, exercise, etc. But each boy should find what works best for him. This may require some self-reflection and trial and error at first. Don’t give up if a particular activity doesn’t “click” for your son. Instead, move on to the next activity until he finds one that sticks and grips his interest.
Start Healthy Habits Early
Many parents struggle to create good habits with their boys when they are younger because they do not know where or how to start. Teaching your son from an early age will make them more open to the idea of healthy habits as they grow.
Encourage your boy to drink at least two liters of water every day. They will be more hydrated and less likely to want other beverages like soda drinks or juices. If they are still at a young age, make it fun. Create challenges or a reward chart until it becomes a habit in them.
Teach boys how to recognize and respond to their own hunger cues, and role model healthy eating habits. Fill your pantry and fridge with nutritious options, including fruits & vegetables. Fresh produce is ideal, but frozen or canned options may be more convenient. (Look for options with no or little added sugar and salt.) Pizza and chips can also be part of a healthy diet. Model moderation and dietary variety; no one should eat only pizza or chips.
Tap into boys’ curiosity. Many boys are naturally inquisitive; they want to know how things works. Use this curiosity to your advantage by going to teach your son about digestive health and your digestive system. Get their buy-in and on the importance of healthy food and gain their commitment. Limit the intake of refined grains by limiting white bread products like pasta, rolls, crackers, and rice. Whole-grain cereals provide more fiber than their processed counterparts. Keep an eye out for vitamin D deficiencies as this nutrient is crucial for bone development — choosing vitamin D added milk is one way to prevent vitamin D deficiency. (Over-the-counter supplements are also available.)
Help your son to maintain good oral hygiene with fluoride toothpaste that tastes great but also has a low risk of dental fluorosis.
Make sure that your boy gets enough to sleep every night. This is essential for their development, learning abilities, and overall well-being. It’s also important for boys with ADHD as it’ll help them focus better at school/work, which means they’ll be able to do their best.
Healthy snacking options include fruits & vegetables, baked snacks like crackers or cereal bars with healthy spreads. Smart snacking helps growing boys meet their caloric needs and stay satisfied between meals. As your son gets older, you may need to send snacks with him to school, so he has something to eat after class and before sports practices. Snacks can fuel your boy for sport.
Health and wellness check-ups are vital for adults and critical for growing boys. When your son was a baby, you took him religiously for his check-ups at the healthcare practitioner. Don’t stop the habit just because he isn’t a baby anymore. Annual doctor check-ups are essential to pick up any abnormalities or prevent a small problem from becoming a bigger or life-threatening problem. Schedule dental appointments are every six months — twice yearly teeth cleaning, plus a yearly check up.
Boys should always wash their hands before touching food, especially after using the bathroom or blowing their nose. This might seem like a logical habit, but boys can be in a rush to get in the bathroom and out of there in record time for whatever reason. It can be that they don’t want to miss the football game on the TV or even fear losing the computer game because he is away from his screen. So make a ritual for them to wash their hands in the kitchen before eating (under your watchful eye).
Do not forget the importance of sunscreen! A lot of boys hate it, but sunscreen is essential to protect their bodies from sunburn and harmful UV rays which can cause skin cancer. So before your boys head out to play in the garden, rub a layer on their faces and exposed skin. Remember to reapply as per the recommendation on the bottle.
These are the basic things that your son needs to do to stay healthy. He should eat well, exercise daily, and enjoy life outdoors as much as he can. Working to instill healthy habits early on gives your son the best chance of growing up into a healthy man.
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