Summer break means plenty of free time to play, but studies show that kids today are less active than ever. When school ends, kids tend to gain weight faster, increasing their risk of obesity.1 Without their daily recess, kids become stationary, which can lead to a number of health problems.
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) recommends that kids get 60 minutes of physical activity every day.2 This not only keeps them healthy, it also can improve their mood, brain function and memory. Summer camps and organized activities are expensive, but there are some other things you can do to keep your kids healthy this summer. Here are some tips to keep them off the couch.
Explore your city’s outdoor areas.
A summer full of fun doesn’t have to be expensive!
- Most cities have public playgrounds and parks. Explore your city on the weekends and find those hidden gems.
- Little Rock has several outdoor parks and playgrounds downtown, like the Peabody Splash Park in the River Market district.
Get involved with a neighborhood sports team.
Many neighborhoods have sports activities for kids. And the good news is, they’re usually free or inexpensive.
- Team sports help boost self-confidence and team building and social skills.
- A great summer option is the neighborhood swim team. The practice will strengthen kids’ swimming skills and keep them cool in hot weather.
Create “exercise play” with fun, inexpensive toys.
Get back to the classics; many can be found at your local dollar store. Giving kids the tools for movement will redirect their energy when they’re bored.
- Get your kids jump ropes, sidewalk chalk for hopscotch, hula hoops, kites or bikes.
- Plan a “family Olympics” one weekend and encourage your kids to practice during the weeks leading up to the big competition.
Introduce them to the practice of yoga.
Yoga has endless benefits not only for adults, but for kids--both mentally and physically.
- Practicing yoga is free and requires no equipment. Just pick a spot on the floor, find a yoga instructor on YouTube and press play!
- Yoga builds strength and balance, and studies show that it also reduces anxiety in kids who are difficult in the classroom.
- You’ll be surprised at how easily your kids catch on to some of the poses and enjoy the challenge of handstands and other tricks.
Combine your kids’ interests with exercise.
It can be hard to motivate the more artistic or academic kids to get off the couch, but there are ways to make exercise more appealing. Showing them ways to get moving while also doing the things they love will build confidence.
- If your child loves art, take them on a hike to find natural supplies for an art project, like leaves, acorns and flowers.
- If they love animals, walk around the dog park one day or go to the zoo.
Get them in the water.
Take your family to the neighborhood pool for an afternoon of splashing around with other kids.
- Encourage them to dive, do headstands or play games. Their energy will keep them moving.
- If you can’t make it to a pool, bring out the water hose and let them play in the backyard.
Keep them moving when they can’t go out.