During summer vacation, kids have an unlimited amount of free time, and it can be difficult to think of ways to keep them active. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends children get 60 minutes of physical activity each and every day, which is doable during school months thanks to in-school fitness opportunities like recess and gym class. But throughout the summer, this becomes a bit more of a challenge.
It is estimated that less than 33% of children will actually reach this level of activity each day. In fact, about four hours per day on average is spent in front of a screen, and in the past 30 years, childhood obesity has tripled to nearly 1 out of 3 children in America. This means keeping your children active during the summer months is crucial for optimal health.
See also Ideas for Summer Family Fun
Below are five suggestions to help your kids stay healthy, happy and moving during the summer months.
Make it a Family Affair
Schedule time for the entire family to do something active together, as children are more likely to be active if their parents are as well. Weekend activities like planning a hike or playing catch are also great opportunities to bond as a family.
Participate in Summer Programs
Many schools or recreation programs have summer leagues for kids to participate in. Your local community center is a great resource to gather information on little league baseball, soccer, tennis or summer basketball programs. Visiting your park district’s pool or beach is a cost-effective way to keep kids cool in the hot summer sun.
Organize Group Activities
Getting a group of friends together makes it easier to come up with a list of fun things to do. Encourage your child to invite friends over to play tag, have a water balloon or squirt gun fight.
Keep active toys accessible
If toys that promote physical activity are out of sight, they’ll most likely be out of mind as well. Keep jump ropes, hula-hoops, and bicycles front and center and easily accessible in the garage so your kids see them each time they’re thinking of coming inside to play.
Set a schedule
Try to make regular physical activity as routine as possible. Experiment with setting up an activity calendar that neatly summarizes all of the week’s activities in one comprehensive place. Then, look for gaps and find creative ways to fill them.
How have you kept your children active this summer?
Ben Mohr, of Anytime Fitness, wrote this blog post on behalf of the Together Counts™ program. Ben is an intern with Anytime Fitness and is majoring in dietetics at UW-Stout to become a sports dietitian. Anytime Fitness is a member of the Together CountsTM program and Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation.