Encourage Healthy Habits to Help Prepare Students for College

Vol. 17 No. 10

PSN eletter vol17 no10 graduation

We previously discussed how cultivating healthy habits can improve your success as a school administrator.

The value of a healthy lifestyle holds true for students, too. A recent study highlights that students who maintain healthy habits can be more motivated to attend college.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities recently examined the difference that maintaining multiple healthy behaviors—engaging in physical activity, eating well, getting enough sleep, and refraining from substance use—can have on students’ educational aspirations.

Researchers compiled survey data from the Minnesota Student Survey, which was administered to public school students in grades 5, 8, 9, and 11. They reviewed the results to draw conclusions, examining responses from 162,034 students in 2013 and 168,733 students in 2016.

Even after controlling for demographic variables, researchers found that maintaining multiple healthy behaviors is positively correlated to academic performance, commitment to learning, and educational aspirations. We’re sharing some of their conclusions below, along with recommendations on how you can encourage these healthy behaviors in your school to benefit students, faculty, and staff.

Physical activity. The study’s findings suggest that “the more days a student partakes in physical activity of at least 60 minutes, the higher their grade point average (GPA), commitment to learning, and odds of planning to attend a two- or four-year community, technical college, or university.” Help build time into your school’s schedule to allow for movement, and don’t forget to incorporate some physical activity for yourself.

Nutrition. There are several different aspects of nutrition that can impact a student’s educational aspirations. According to the researchers, “students with food security who consume daily meals that include fruits or veggies and avoid junk food exhibit better academic outcomes and cognitive abilities as well as improved health outcomes.” Share the importance of sound nutrition with your students and ensure healthy options are available on your school’s campus.

Sleep. The results suggest that sleep is also incredibly important for students. For every additional hour of sleep a student gets on a school night, the higher the student’s commitment to learning. Make sure to stress the importance of rest to your faculty, so they can model this behavior for their students.

Substance use. Similar to past studies, researchers found that “substance use was negatively associated with GPA, commitment to learning, and odds of planning to attend college or university.” This probably falls in line with your school’s commitment to a substance-free environment.

A commitment to health can vastly improve your students’ educational aspirations, as well as your school culture as a whole. Consider what you can do to promote healthy behaviors on campus to support your students, faculty, and staff.

Additional ISM resources:
The Source for Private School News Vol. 17 No. 5 Five Ways to Start Your Morning on the Right Foot

Additional ISM resources for Gold members:
I&P Vol. 42 No. 11 Healthy Learning Environments for Students
I&P Vol. 42 No. 12 Primary Drivers of School Outcomes: Insights From Our Executive Leadership and Well-Being Study

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