As a busy mom of four kids getting a summer plan together for them is a job all by itself. I try to make sure that they do something that interests them but just recently I had an aha moment. This moment came from a series of talks with other busy moms about summer scheduling and what moms really want for their kids. Yes, they want them to have fun, get rest, and keep reading to avoid the summer slide. The other interesting thing is that they want their kids to be more active in general. For example, some moms want their kids to go to the gym with them (not happening) or just play outside more.
According to the 2015 YMCA Family Health Snapshot Survey in partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics Institute for Healthy Childhood Weight, less than half of students got at least 60 minutes of activity each day during the summer. This alarming statistic is all the more reason to make sure your kids stay active this summer. Below are some easy, practical ways to incorporate more activity into your kids day:
Tip #1: Take advantage of downtime. A half hour here or there can make a difference. For example, if you're hanging out at the house, go on a 20 minute discovery walk. When you call the activity something else, kids get excited and usually jump at the chance to spend some quality time with you. For older kids, play some recreational basketball or ride bikes. Do this a few times a week and you can increase their physical activity time by 1-2 hours weekly!
Tip #2: Make video games count. If the kids are wearing you down to play video games make it a requirement to do something active like Wii Sports or Just Dance. Most kids play for between 30-45 minutes without thinking about it. This is a great option especially when the weather prevents outdoor activity.
Tip #3: Start a Wearables Contest. Just like the summer library reading kick-off program, get your kids a pedometer to kick-off tracking their steps daily. An initial daily goal for kids up to age 10 is 3000 steps. Between the ages of 11-14, I recommend a step goal of 4.000-8,000. Kids over 14 can aim for 8,000-10000 steps per day. You can keep it simple just by having your kids wear the pedometer or fitness tracker or create a calendar to record daily steps. I recommend that kids set personal goals and celebrate when they meet their personal goal. Doing it this way will avoid the sibling competition that can oftentimes detract from the activity.
Try one of all of these suggestions and see which one works best for your family. Ultimately, you want to make sure you give your kids the recommended daily exercise to help them thrive throughout the summer, manage the summer blues, and be ready for strong school year.
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