According to the CDC, elementary kids get eight to 12 colds or cases of the flu every school year. Older kids get about half as many.

Teachers and parents commonly refer to it as the Back-to-School Plague.

How to prevent the “back to school” plague? Pay special attention to these four things:

• Sleep
• Regular exercise
• A healthy diet
• Hand-washing

Common sense, right? Here are the specifics:

Sleep – The CDC recommends that school-age children get 10 to 11 hours of sleep every night. Anything below that is considered sleep deprivation and lowers the immune system’s ability to fight off infection.

Regular Exercise – The Mayo Clinic reaffirms Guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services that state that children and adolescents age 6 and older need at least an hour a day of physical activity. Most of the hour should be either moderate or vigorous aerobic activity. In addition, children should participate in muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening activities at least three days a week.

  • Organized sports (such as baseball or soccer) meet all the requirements of getting physical exercises, including muscle and bone strengthening activities. The typical playground activities (using playground equipment and jumping rope or playing hopscotch) meet those requirements too. Here’s the caveat: playground and sports equipment are a haven for germs – make sure your kids are protected by a long-acting hand sanitizer before climbing those monkey bars.


If you want to be sure that your kids stay protected without having to reapply hand sanitizer for every new germ-infested soccer ball or jungle gym, make sure you send them off with “my-shield” hand sanitizer because one application will keep them protected for a minimum of 4 hours and through several hand-washings. Even better – if they are washing with “my-shield” foaming hand soap and then applying “my-shield” hand sanitizer, the protection is stronger and lasts longer.

Remember that if you are applying the usual alcohol-based hand sanitizer, once that has dried on their skin (around 30 seconds) any future effectiveness is GONE. ZILCH! NADA! Some of those sanitizers’ effectiveness is suspect; and you’ll understand that a bit better when you read our article on “why 99.9% isn’t good enough”. Of course, any precaution is better than none at all.

  • If your kids aren’t interested in playground sports, try to get creative as you search for activities your child enjoys. If your child is artistically inclined, consider a nature hike to collect leaves and rocks for use in a collage. If your child loves reading, walk or bike to a local library for a book. And don’t discount something as readily available as music – just turn on your child’s favorite music and dance in the living room. If your kids are more into “organized” exercise, consider after-school classes like the martial arts or specialized dance classes.

Keep in mind that exercise benefits every part of the body, for all ages, including the mind. Exercising causes the body to make chemicals that can help a person to feel good. Exercise has been proven to improve sleep. It can also help some people who have mild depression. What’s not to love?

A Balanced Diet – A balanced diet is just what it says… balanced. While the food pyramid of the past 50 years has been debated and turned inside out and upside down in more recent years, there is considerable debate about how much of different foots should be consumed. Still, it is generally agreed that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy and healthy fats (YES, FATS!) provides the most benefit for any “body”. Try to limit those “empty calories”.

  • According to the USDA, Americans consume empty calories most often in: bacon, sausages, cakes, cheese, cookies, doughnuts, energy drinks, fruit drinks, ice cream, pizza and sports drinks and soda.
  • There has also been a lot of debate in recent years as to whether or not Vitamin C plays an important role in warding off illness. Findings are inconsistent and more recent studies suggest that experts have found little or no benefit from vitamin C for preventing or treating the common cold. Still, it is not contested that a balanced diet, including high vitamin C fruits is a good thing!

Hand-Washing -The number one way to stop germs from ever entering the body is hand washing.

A study published in August 2011 in American Journal of Infection Control, reported that students (aged 5 to 15) who received just one lesson in hand hygiene (they were instructed to sanitize their hands with hand sanitizer three times during the school day) realized a 66 percent drop in school days missed due to illness. 66 percent! Other studies show that kids—and their parents–stay healthier if children wash their hands with soap and warm water for 20 to 30 seconds (the length of time it takes to say the alphabet or sing Happy Birthday) several times a day to scrub away germs.

Key FACT: This study was done with Alcohol-based Hand Sanitizer. There is no doubt that it helps. (As we said before, something is better than nothing.) But there are HUGE disadvantages to using alcohol-based hand sanitizers. (See our article on Kids Getting Drunk on Hand Sanitizer).

Most alcohol-based hand sanitizers’ effectiveness is finished when the product is dry. That occurs about 30 seconds after the hand sanitizer is applied.

By comparison, “my-shield®” Hand Sanitizer Foam uses unique nano antimicrobial technology that not only kills on contact, but also has persistent activity that helps prevent infections. The persistence of myshield® Hand Sanitizer Foam has been shown to remain effective for up to 4 hours. Pair that with foaming soap and the effectiveness becomes stronger and lasts longer.

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