Sweet summertime — kids look forward to it all year long. For many children, summer means sleeping in, no homework and a break from scheduled activities. But for parents, summer may require more work and creativity than usual to keep kids active, off the couch and away from electronic devices and video games.
Encouraging regular physical activity is one of the best things you can do for your child’s health. Aim for about 60 minutes of physical activity each day to keep children healthy. It’s important to note that this doesn’t require playing sports or traditional forms of exercise. Any way to get kids moving will do, like hopscotch, jumping rope or rollerblading — the sky’s the limit! The most important thing is to make it fun.
Here are some simple tips to keep your kids active this summer:
Frame activity as a reward. Using physical activity as a reward can make all the difference in how your children think about being active. If you give your kids chores or other tasks to do, let them pick between a swim at the pool, bike ride or trip to the park after they finish.
Join them. Being active together as a family will teach kids healthy habits at a young age. Children learn by example and if they see you enjoying physical activity, they’re more likely to enjoy it as well. You can keep it simple with a walk around the block, shooting hoops in your driveway or at a local park, or a weekend hiking trip.
Avoid the heat. To help prevent fatigue, try to avoid the hottest hours of the day (typically 11am to 4pm) for the most rigorous activities. Late morning and early evening are great times to get outside. Swimming is a great option for hot afternoons, just don’t forget the SPF!
Reveal the wonders of the outdoors. A healthy dose of fresh air and sunlight is good for your health. Same goes for your kids. There are many beautiful sights to see and discover as a child, but your kids may need you to show them the wonders of the outdoors. If your children are prone to staying inside, take them to a local park or hiking trail and let them explore. You may even want to plan a weekend hiking or camping trip with the whole family.
Use community resources. There are likely plenty of opportunities to keep kids active right around you, but it may require a little research. Get online to check out local cooking classes, camps, sports leagues, community pools, parks and more. Park trails are great for walks and bike rides! It’s not all up to you to come up with new experiences for your children. See what’s out there and try something new.
Make it educational. Try visiting a museum or science center. Pick something that interests your child and offers interactive components to keep them engaged. They won’t even realize they’ve been on their feet moving around the whole time. Plus, it’s a great way to escape the heat for a day.