Classes, homework, and any formal schedule are pretty much done, and the biggest
concern is figuring out what to do with all that free time. Though lazing around
in front of the computer or television is a common free time activity, studies
show that sedentary kids are likely to experience unhealthy summer weight gain.
Getting your kids to exercise may be a challenge, but you can motivate them to
get moving with these expert tips.
7 ways to keep your kids active this summer
Granted, getting your kids to do anything for a full hour can be a challenge.
But experts say you can motivate them to get moving with the following tips.
1. Turn off the tube
Limit your children's television viewing to only about two hours a day. Then
incorporate physical activity during their television time. Joanna Faerber, who
won the 2009 National Elementary Teach of the Year award from the National
Association for Sport & Physical Education for her work at the LSU
Laboratory School in Baton Rouge, LA, suggests another way to sneak activity
into your kids' day: Tell them to do jumping jacks during commercials. (Make it
a game or a contest.)
2. Make exercise a family affair
Does most of your family time involve watching American Idol? Set a new
routine. After all, children learn by example. "When you're finished eating
dinner, instead of sitting around and watching TV, turn it off, or don't even
turn it on, and go outside for a walk, play catch, shoot some baskets, take your
dog for walk – that's always a good breath of fresh air that helps everybody,"
Dr Fulton says.
3. Create structure
Obviously, you don't want to burden to your kids with too much rigidity
during summer break, but planning some activities ahead of time can prevent them
from being tempted to sit around the house all day, says Mary Lou Gavin, MD,
medical editor for KidsHealth.org and a pediatrician at the duPont Hospital for
Children in Wilmington, DE. Dr Gavin recommends enrolling kids in summer camp or
just setting a time each day for when they should go outside and play. Being
outdoors can be a burden on really hot days so Dr Gavin suggests planning your
kids' downtime when the sun is at its peak.
4. Check out free day camps
Lots of community organizations offer day camps during the summer that keep
kids active for little or no cost. Faerber and Dr Gavin recommend looking into
programs offered through the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the YMCA. Day
camps also offer kids who don't have the luxury of a yard a safe place to play
5. Make it fun
"When you ask kids why they're physically active or what they like about it.
They'll say 'I like it because it's fun,'" Dr Fulton explains. She recommends
offering kids a variety of activities so that they learn skills they can use to
compete in organized sports when they grow older. "There's also a lot of other
things you could learn about the cognitive aspects of keeping score and
strategy, and that comes much more into play as kids get older," Dr Fulton says.
Try swimming and bike riding for younger kids and summer sports like baseball
and tennis for older ones.
6. Keep toys handy
Dr Gavin recommends keeping a stash of balls, racquets, jump ropes, hula
hoops and such in your garage to guarantee your kids will always find something
7. Get friends involved
"Doing it alone becomes a barrier for some children," Dr Gavin says. Invite
some neighborhood buddies over and see how fast they come up with active things
to do. (Just tell them to keep the mischief to a minimum.)
Physical activities that meet the guidelines
Physical Activity Guidelines released by the federal government last year
recommend that children and young adults do at least 60 minutes of aerobic,
muscle strengthening, and bone strengthening activity a day. Here are examples
of activities that meet the guidelines.
- Active recreation, such as hiking, skateboarding, rollerblading
- Bicycle riding
- Brisk walking
- Active games involving running and chasing, such as tag
- Bicycle riding
- Jumping rope
- Martial arts, such as karate
- Sports such as soccer, ice or field hockey, basketball, swimming,
- Games such as tug-of-war
- Modified push-ups (with knees on the floor)
- Resistance exercises using body weight or resistance bands
- Rope or tree climbing
- Sit-ups (curl-ups or crunches)
- Swinging on playground equipment/bars
- Games such as hopscotch
- Hopping, skipping, jumping
- Jumping rope
- Sports such as gymnastics, basketball, volleyball, tennis
-from Sheknows Health & Wellness