Every parent knows how challenging it can be to get their kids off the couch and keepthem moving and playing. Summer break means that kids have more time to spend on simply being kids. But these days, children are less active than they’ve ever been.
According to a study done in 2016, children tend to gain weight faster when they’re not at school, increasing their risk of obesity. Without daily recess, kids can easily become stationary. Regular exercise not only keeps them physically healthy – it can also improve their mood, brain function and memory.
Here are a few easy ways to help keep your kids active this summer while instilling an appreciation for exercise at a young age.
Get back to the classics that you enjoyed as a child. Jump ropes, sidewalk chalk, hula hoops and kites are all cheap toys that will motivate your kids to move. Simply giving them the tools for movement can help redirect their energy when they’re bored.
Yoga has endless benefits for kids, both mentally and physically. It’s also free and requires no equipment – just pick a spot on the floor, find a yoga instructor on YouTube and press play. You’ll be surprised at how easily your kids catch onto some of the poses and love pushing themselves to do handstands and other tricks.
It can be hard to motivate the more artistic or academic kids to move, but there are ways to make exercise more appealing. If your child loves art, go 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. Showing them ways to get moving while also doing the things they love will build confidence, too.
Take your family to the neighborhood pool for an afternoon of splashing around with other kids. Encourage kids to dive, do headstands or play games. They’ll definitely expend some energy!
Plenty of neighborhoods have club sports for kids. The best part is that they’re usually free or inexpensive to join. Sports help boost self-confidence, team building and social skills. One great option for summer is the neighborhood swim team. The practice will strengthen your children’s swimming skills and keep them cool in the hot weather.
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Lubna Maruf, M.D., medical director at QualChoice Health Insurance, is a graduate of Aga Khan Medical University in Pakistan and completed her residency at Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center, affiliated with the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has over 20 years of experience in internal medicine and health care administration