By Michael Molina, MPH, Community Educator at CHOC
Children and adolescents should meet a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity every day. The full 60 minutes doesn’t have to be all at once- you can break it down in smaller sessions such as 15-20 minutes. Being active is an essential part a child’s growth and development, and keeping them healthy. Incorporate these easy tips into your family’s summer plans to make sure everyone gets the physical activity they need and deserve.
Be active with your children
Be a role model for your kids. Children are more likely to stay active when they are having fun with their parents. Using words like “play time” or “fun time” makes it more exciting and appealing than “exercise” or “working out.” Tap into activities or sports that they are interested in, such as walking the dog, playing catch, soccer, riding a bike, or an obstacle course in your backyard.
Parents should encourage physical activities for the whole family, and time together should concentrate on 3 areas:
- Endurance (increase heart rate)- Run away from the person who’s “it” or balloon tag
- Strength (using our muscles)-Try crossing the monkey bars. No need for weights for this one; use your body weight for pull-ups, pushups, and sit-ups at the playground
- Flexibility (stretching our muscles)- Fun yoga poses or something as simple as bending down to tie their shoes
Limit screen time for the entire family
Children should not exceed more than two hours of screen time each day. Screen time is considered watching TV, playing video games, or using the computer, tablet or smartphones.
Children are more likely to eat foods that are high in fat, sugar and sodium during long periods of screen time that surpass their serving size.
Screen time means time away from being active. Long term consequences of being physically inactive increase one’s risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
Join a summer camp or program
Look for your city’s summer camps or programs, or join your local Boys and Girls Club.
Ask what types of activities these summer programs provide for your child and if they are age appropriate. Also try to find ways that you can be involved with the summer program.
Drink plenty of water
Provide water as a source of rehydration, not fruit drinks. Many fruit drinks are advertised as “healthy” drinks because they have images of real fruit on the packages when really it is made with a small percent of real fruit.
Water is a great source of hydration and it is calorie-free. Try adding slices of real fruit in the water for more flavor.