By: BJ Williston, SPARK Trainer and Curriculum Development Consultant
It’s summertime and letting your children recuperate from the constant hustle and bustle of the school year sounds healthy. You may be thinking, “Hey, my kids deserve to relax and enjoy a lazy summer.” For some, that may be the right approach, but perhaps not everyone. Research shows there’s potential to lose fitness if children who were involved in school-based fitness programs are less active over the summer break. What can you do to help prevent this? Keeping your children engaged in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity* for at least 60 minutes most days will help them maintain and possibly gain aerobic and muscular fitness throughout the summer months. As a Together Counts™ partner, we want to share a few tips you can use to help reach that goal:
- Add some structure to the day. During the school year, activity time is built in to the daily schedule. Do the same during the summer break. Scheduling it into busy days gives it high priority and ensures it gets done.
- Set goals each day. Using a pedometer or other activity monitor makes it easy to see if goals have been reached. For example: Set a goal to take 6,000 steps before noon and another 6,000 before bedtime.
- Make it fun! Activity may be scheduled but don’t let that take the enjoyment out of it. Let your child have a say in what activities he/she wants to do.
- Make it a family affair. While we may be telling our kids how important activity is, there’s nothing like showing them and being a good role model. The family that plays together is, well, a happy, healthy family!
- Limit screen time to less than two hours a day. The less time children are sitting and watching TV, on the computer or playing video games, the more time they are moving. Doing just about anything is better than sitting and passively watching a screen. Offer a few ideas, but allow your children to participate. It is up to them to get creative and come up with something to do too!
- Utilize community resources. Summer activity camps could be just the trick to motivate and activate your children. Aside from keeping fit and learning new skills, they may make some new friends to be active with on their own.
Summer will be over before you know it, so get your children active ASAP to help them maintain that hard-earned fitness.
*Moderate refers to activities such as brisk walking or cycling and vigorous involves increases in breathing or heart rate like jogging, playing soccer or basketball, or fast hiking.
For more ideas on how to get your family active this summer, check out these articles from Together Counts!