As school winds down, it becomes more important than ever to find ways to increase the physical activity of our children. A survey performed as part of the YMCA Family Health Snapshot found that 64% of parents claimed their kids spent at least three hours each day watching TV, playing video games or online. That time represents a 30% increase during the summer compared to the school year. What can we do to create more active children in the summer months?
The YMCA and American Academy of Pediatrics surveyed parents of 5- to 12-year-old children. Only 47% of those parents said their kids engaged in 60 minutes or more of daily exercise, sports or physical activity. Also, many kids will eat unhealthy foods and drink beverages filled with sugar. Those diets, combined with low levels of physical activity, can contribute to childhood obesity.
It’s crucial that we encourage our kids to use their free time during the summer to do activities that help them get exercise. Here are a few suggestions:
Active children tip #1: Enroll them in summer camps.
Summer camps, either in your area or away from home, can be great ways to help kids have more fun when school is out. Plus your children will get far more exercise than is recommended. A study performed at North Carolina State University found that kids at day camps average 12,000 steps per day. Children at residential camps get over 19,000 steps per day on average.
Active children tip #2: Have your kids play outside.
Kids are much more likely to be physically active outside than indoors, especially at home. Encourage them to play with their friends, ride bikes, and play sports like soccer, basketball and baseball.
Active children tip #3: Sign them up for other activities.
Even if they aren’t full-day camps, kids can take daily classes and activities such as martial arts, hiking, kayaking and canoeing, swimming and so much more. Not only can these activities be fun, but you might expose them to hobbies they want to continue all year long.
Active children tip #4: Demonstrate physical activity.
We must be good role models for our children. If they see us open a bag of chips and sit down in front of the TV after work, our kids will think it’s acceptable for them to do it too. We need to get outside and run, go to the gym and eat healthy foods. Better yet, we can exercise and play with our kids!
Sedentary summer: Kids don’t play outside enough, study finds. By A. Pawlowski. Today. April 21, 2015.
Too Little Exercise, Too Much Screen Time Makes Summer Weighty for Children. By Kathryn Baron. Education Week. April 27, 2015.
Summer Camps: A Fun, Easy Way for Children to Fight Obesity. The College of Health and Human Development. Penn State University.