When the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation was founded in 2007 the main mantra of the non-profit organization helping at-risk children in Indian River Country was Mardy’s “Six Healthy Habits.” With the current heightened focus on personal health, these healthy habits become even more important to children, and people of all ages.
“Fighting disease and viruses starts with having a good immune system and you build that up by having a healthy lifestyle,” said Tom Fish, the President Emeritus of the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation and Mardy’s father. “We want to teach children, early in their life, the importance of starting to live a healthy life. It’s not just good advice for children but for everyone.”
Mardy’s Six Healthy Habits are as follows:
- Get Sleep
- Drink Water
- Eat Healthy
- Exercise Daily
- Brush and Floss
- Make Friends
Sleep performs a range of vital functions, including restoring damaged tissues, boosting learning and memory, and flushing toxins from the brain. Sleeping too little can have serious long-term health consequences, increasing the risk of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
“Sleep is an important behavior and routine because that’s when your body regenerates and cures itself,” said Fish. “If you are sick or injured, one of the best things you can do to get rid of germs and illness is to sleep. It’s important to get about eight hours of sleep a night. Roger Federer recently posted that he ideally likes to get ten hours of sleep each night. That’s 10 pm to eight in the morning. Naps are also good if you can do it. Getting enough sleep keeps you alert, gives you more energy and allows you to learn more.
Being hydrated flushes out your system and gets any bad elements in your system out. It flushes out waste and helps your digestive system. Having properly moisturized skin, nostrils and mouth also prevents viruses and bacteria from infecting you and getting into your body. It also helps you have the proper blood pressure. It is recommended that you drink about two to three liters of water per day and to have at least a swig of a drink every 15 minutes, even when you do not feel thirsty.
“It’s good to have a water bottle with you and certainly drink during and after physical activity,” said Fish. “Water is the best liquid to drink and if you don’t like the taste, squeeze a little lemon in it for some extra flavor. It’s amazing the wonders your body will do when it is properly hydrated.”
Your body needs healthy food and a balanced diet to get all the vitamins it needs to grow and maintain strong muscles, bones and fight off sickness. Overeating and eating poorly – especially too much sugar – can cause conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Studies show that when people, especially children, are well nourished, they perform better in at work and school and they have positive learning experiences. Healthy foods give you energy and keep your body feeling great.
“Food is fuel and you want to put ‘good gasoline’ in your tank and not bad,” said Fish. “Get a good balance of fruits, vegetables, proteins, carbohydrates and don’t eat too late in the evening and give your body a chance to fast and digest. Also make sure you don’t eat too much and avoid junk food and fast food.”
Exercise and moving your body is an essential every day activity. Exercise or physical activity is very important because it strengthens your heart, muscles, and bones. Exercise also helps your brain work and puts you in a great mood. It helps keep your mind active and alert throughout the day. When you exercise your body, you are also exercising the mind. It stimulates blood flow and brings oxygen to the brain to enhance its function. You are testing and conditioning your body and your lungs for stressful situations and when an unexpected stressful situation occurs, you are prepared and can endure.
“Your body is full of moving parts and you have to keep them moving to keep them functioning and strong,” said Fish. “Exercising creates a strong body that creates a strong person and a strong immune system. You can do powerful things when you are strong and in shape.”
Brush and Floss
Taking care of your teeth is essential, brushing and flossing your teeth twice daily is recommended. Tooth decay and gum disease can develop when plaque is allowed to build up on and between teeth, thus the need to brush and floss daily. Plaque is full of bacteria that you need to extract from your body. Healthy teeth allow you to chew thoroughly, which is important for digestion and also to allow you to speak clearly and look good when you smile. It also cleans your mouth and prevents you from having bad breath, which can also hurt you socially.
“Brushing and flossing your teeth in the morning and at night before you go to bed should be part of your every-day routine,” said Fish.
Social interaction is a vital part of daily mental health. Friends help you make better lifestyle choices and contribute to an overall state of well-being. Spending time with friends gives you a more positive disposition. You are also using your brain more when you interact with people. By contrast, loneliness is adverse to your health and contributes to a mental and physical decline.
“Personal relationships are important for mental health and promote your sense of general well-being,” said Fish. “Being with people, especially friends, creates improved mental sharpness. It helps create a more positive outlook on life a creates long, happier and more meaningful lives with the joyful interaction of friends and family.”
For more information on the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation, go to www.MardyFishChildrensFoundation.org