5 Ways to Keep Children Active During School Year

keeping kids active during school year

During the summer, children usually have plenty of opportunities to play outdoors.  But when school starts, it can be a challenge to keep your children physically active.  More children are spending their time in sedentary activities, and consequently, rates of overweight and obesity are increasing.  In fact, Latino children have even higher rates of overweight and obesity than the national average according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation  These can increase the risk for chronic disease such as diabetes or heart disease later in life.  Regular physical activity can help reverse this trend.
The Centers for Disease Control state children over the age of six should get an hour of moderate to vigorous exercise every day, and this should include some muscle and bone strengthening activity on at least three days a week.  However, in many schools, outdoor recess time has been reduced or eliminated.  Children often come home before parents return from work, and watch TV or play on the computer for hours, instead of being outside playing.  With schools no longer providing adequate physical activity during the day, it is up to parents to find ways to provide it after school hours.  What can you do?

moms being active

Be Active Yourself

If you are physically active yourself, your children will be more likely to follow your lead.  When they see you enjoying physical activity, they will want to join in.  You don’t need to join a gym.  Gardening, walking kids to school or biking to the grocery store are all great ways to be active and are shown to burn quite a bit of calories. Compare the amount of calories you burn using a calorie counter tool like Everyday Health’s Calorie Counter tool“>Everyday Health’s Calorie Counter tool

kids watching tv

Set Limits on TV

Limit the amount of time spent watching TV or playing computer games.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV for children younger than age 2, and that children between 2 and 6 years old watch no more than one or two hours of TV per day. Active video games are better than no physical activity, but they aren’t good substitutes for vigorous, outdoor play.

best sports for kids

Establish Active Habits

Establish daily family habits like walking the dog, playing catch, Frisbee, or tag.  Set a regular family time and get out and enjoy it! Encourage each family member to be active in ways that are fun for them.  For little ones, hopscotch, freeze tag, or hide and seek are fun and don’t take a lot of space.  For older children, a basketball hoop, badminton net, or a ball and mitt can provide hours of active play.

Coronado island

Use Community Resources

  • For example, join the Family YMCA and enroll your children in age-appropriate activities there.
  • Locate a park or playground where your family can go each day after school or after dinner.
  • Team up with other families in the neighborhood to take turns watching the children play.

Encourage your older children to participate in organized sports activities at school or at a community center.

Indoor Activity

Stuck indoors on a rainy day?  Put on some Zumba or other upbeat music and dance!  Older children can also do jumping jacks, jump rope, or other calisthenics.
Most parents today are busy in and outside of the home, so keep your goals for family activity realistic and flexible.  A half hour walk after dinner is better than no walk.  Use it as a time to catch up with your children and reconnect with them.  Staying physically active as a family is a healthy habit you can pass on to your children!

Guest Blogger Adrian Dunn is an American College of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer, Wellness Coach, and Fitness Coach for EverydayHealth.com.

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