When it comes to physical activity, every little bit counts — at any age. The fact is, children are less physically fit than they were a generation ago. This is a troubling trend as inactive children are more likely to become inactive adults — and more likely to join the majority of American adults who are overweight and at greater risk for diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
For great tips on keeping kids active during the summer months, watch the video below featuring UVA cardiologist and Club Red clinical ambassador Brandy Patterson, MD.
Strive for 60 minutes of active play each day
To be at their healthiest, children need at least 60 minutes of physical activity on most (preferably all) days of the week. Short, 15-minute bouts of exercise can be accumulated throughout the day to achieve this goal.
FUN is the name of the game. Go to the park or the zoo, walk the dog, play tag or ball in the back yard. Make it a habit to take a walk before dinner or do some other activity that doesn’t involve sitting around watching TV or YouTube. Find out about any sports your child is interested in and encourage her to participate. Here are more ideas to get you started.
For Parents: 7 Tips to Keep Kids Moving This Summer
- Set a good example by choosing action over electronics whenever you can. Walk to the store instead of driving or choose a rake over a leaf blower.
- Share your enthusiasm for exercise. After a workout — or a walk around the block — tell your child how you feel. Energized? Happier? Tired, but proud of what you accomplished?
- Play together. Get your child off the couch by taking him to the playground or outside for a game of catch.
- Praise effort, not results. Your child may not be able to sink a basket on her first attempt. To fend off frustration (in both inactive and active kids), be sure to acknowledge how hard they’re trying.
- Offer positive reinforcement. If your child makes a healthy choice, take notice — and comment on their actions.
- Limit TV time to a set amount per day ( here’s a helpful tracking sheet ).
- Revisit your childhood and join your kids for some fun outdoor games like Mother May I, red light/green light, Simon says or hopscotch.
For Kids: 7 Tips to Stay Active This Summer
- Enjoy the swimming pool. Encourage swim races or a game of Marco Polo. Have a swimming contest and ask a grownup to be a judge. Consider joining a swim team.
- Set up an obstacle course (get your parents to help) in your backyard or at a playground. Use a variety of obstacles to challenge different skill levels.
- Invite the neighborhood kids to play in an organized game. Set up a scavenger hunt around the neighborhood or organize a softball game with all the kids and adults.
- Try video games such as Just Dance or Wii fit on days when it’s just too hot to go outside.
- Check out the local youth center, recreation programs and YMCA for fun indoor activities.
- Have a dance party!
- Sit (or bounce) on a large stability ball while using the computer or watching TV to improve core strength and posture.