Summer means freedom from homework, PTA meetings and the rush to catch the bus. Time off is good, but too much of a break can lead to unhealthy changes. In fact, a recent study found that children tend to gain weight faster during the summer. Help your kids stay fit by making it a family affair, with activities you can all do together.
Focus on food.
Don’t take a vacation from nutrition.
- Pack a lunch for your kids and yourself. Make it a picnic!
- Fill that brown bag with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and protein, and skip sweetened drinks.
- Replace the junk food in your pantry and fridge with healthier snacks.
- Plant a garden together, or visit a farmers market for in-season produce. Let the kids choose, then make dinner together.
Find a new routine.
Schedule some structure into lazy summer days with activities to keep everyone active. It could mean less screen time and snacking.
- Sign your child up for day camp or swim lessons.
- Join your kids by going to playgroups or story time.
- Use your vacation time to slow down and unwind. This can help lower your blood pressure, heart rate and stress hormones.
Be serious about bedtime.
Without the school-day wake-up alarm, getting kids to bed on time might be forgotten. But having a normal sleep routine is important for the whole family during the summer.
- People who sleep less have less energy for healthy activities, like exercising.
- To make it easier:
- Keep a regular dinnertime.
- Make sure your child gets fresh air and exercise during the day.
- Turn off screens an hour before bed.
Get outside and get active.
There’s no better time to show kids that moving is fun.
- Teach your kids how to fly a kite, paddle a canoe or do a cannonball into the pool.
- Set a time every day when you all take a walk, ride bikes, play tag, jump rope, play soccer, dance or swim.
- Exercise doesn’t have to be a consistent 30 minutes. Many types of recreation are also good exercise.
- Just try to make it all add up to 60 minutes of activity every day.