While summer can be a time for students to rest from the school year, it’s important they maintain a healthy level of physical exercise. It’s easy for children to get sedentary and complacent with TV shows, movies, and video games at home, but here we’ve covered six ways to help them stay active this summer—and why it’s important.
Turn off the TV and computer
According to a study involving parents by the YMCA of the USA, more than half of participants said mobile phones, computers, and TV keep their children from being active and healthy. Encouraging your kids to turn off gadgets and be active with friends or family fares better for them in the long term.
Planning an outing or picnic at a park nearby with another family or group of friends is an easy way to keep your child occupied that will also help get them outside of the house.
Be active with them
Since you have limited time with your child during the school year, taking time over the summer to be active with your child is a great opportunity to bond with them. Take walks, organise outings, or create a scavenger hunt around your neighbourhood.
How does keeping active help? Getting exercise increases the blood flow to the body’s tissues, including the brain. It enhances the brain’s metabolism and studies show that active children have improved brain function and memory. That means your child will have better concentration levels when they’re back in school! Physical activity also builds a stronger immune system, improving your child’s ability to fight allergies, colds, and other diseases children tend to catch from others in school.
Get outside and play
It’s summer—enjoy the outdoors while you can! Ride bicycles, hike in nature, and play outdoor sports. Jump ropes, sports balls, and kites are some examples of toys that encourage physical activity. Organise outdoor games like badminton, frisbee, dodgeball, football, softball, baseball, or volleyball that your family or peer groups can play together.
How does keeping active help? Whether it’s kicking a ball around, jumping, running or skipping, aerobic activity improves their body’s ability to absorb oxygen. They’ll feel more energised; more active children develop stronger bone and muscle structure into adulthood. Breathing and sweating detoxifies the body and keeps it “clean.” Even moderate exercise increases beneficial hormones and burns off excess harmful hormones at the same time.
Go to local pools and recreation centres
With pools open during summer, it’s a great time to go for a swim and take advantage of the physical activities or programs your local recreation centres might be running.
Many places have free or low-cost facilities for youth. Visit your city’s recreational websites to check what resources are available to your child over the summer.
Make and eat healthy snacks
With the school cafeteria closed, it’s easy for children to gravitate toward unhealthy or processed foods. Now is a good time to fill half your child’s plate with fruits and vegetables every day, go grocery shopping together for meal ingredients, and discuss which foods are good for them. You can teach your child to prepare their own healthy snacks and meals, and perhaps learn new tips yourself. Make your own frozen treats by freezing grapes or placing a popsicle stick in the middle of a yogurt cup. Tip: Buy fruits and vegetables in season, as they’ll taste better and may even be cheaper!
Some government-funded locations such as libraries provide meals over the summer. Search online to see if there is a summer meal site near you.
Also don’t forget to stay hydrated—it’s important your child drinks water while they’re playing, especially in hotter temperatures.
Have your child participate in local summer programs
Local summer programs are great ways to keep your child active and cater to their personal interests. To balance the activity with healthy eating, ask about what types of meals they’ll be serving. Besides socialising with others, studies also report staying active can improve your child’s sleep, decrease anxiety, reduce depression, and improve mood. Activity = happiness!
How does keeping active help? Physical activity also helps your child learn how to overcome challenging situations and develop their social skills, such as leadership and empathy with others.
These six tips are great not only for the physical health of your child but also their mental stamina. By integrating seasonal and local fruits and vegetables into your meals and keeping your children away from the TV or devices as much as possible, you and the entire family can benefit from a fun and active time away from school. Enjoy the summer!