The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children get 60 minutes or more of physical activity each day — with the majority of that time being moderate in intensity. Quality active play has been linked to better academics as well as better health. Savvy parents know the importance of staying active as a family to encourage kids to be healthy. Yet staying active during the school year can be challenging when all of the responsibilities of classwork and homework resume. In fact, State of Obesity indicates that only about a quarter of children get the recommended amount of physical activity. Here are some tips you can use to stay active, even while your family adjusts to the pressures and responsibilities of a new school year.
- Capitalize on Weekends
Weekends are great for relaxation, but who says relaxation can’t be active? Sign up for lively and engaging family fun. Consider weekend sporting events, family hikes and even going to the park if you need something easy and free. Just make sure physical health is a priority during weekend times together, and you will quickly learn to enjoy physical activity as a family. #PlaygroundFitness for the whole family!
- Step Away From Screens
What do your kids see you doing when you are home with them? If you are always in front of a screen of some sort, they are going to learn from your example, and not the things you want them to learn. Instead, step away from screens and set a positive example for your kids. The school year makes this easier. You can accomplish your important screen-based work while they are sleeping or at school, and spend those few after-school hours being active together. If you set a positive example, they are going to follow. For more activities to do with your family, read more about activities at home.
- Make After-School Programs Active
If your children need to go to some sort of child care after school, make sure it includes energetic play. According to State of Obesity, more than 8 million children and adolescents are in after-school activities every day. If your children are among them, choose programs that add physical activity to the time after school. A #FLYAROOFitness class at an after school care program or even a private day care that prioritizes active play can all be great option.
- Make Learning Dynamic
Find ways to build movement into your children’s learning. For example, when your first grader needs to practice math flash cards, turn it into a physical game, having your child jump to count the answers or using a hopscotch inspired number line to help. Act out literature activities to incorporate imagination and exercise. With a little bit of creativity, most homework assignments can be made into something that’s a bit more exciting.
- Focus on Fun
Your kids need to view active play as fun. No matter what route you choose, make sure that you pick activities that your kids enjoy, and make sure they see you enjoying active play, too. Team sports can be a great way to do this for some kids, while others do better with unstructured free-play activities
- Invite Them to Join You
If you are already prioritizing exercise in your life, invite your children to join you. Most kids want to participate in the activities their parents like. Find a kid-friendly exercise routine, and make it a family affair. Childhood obesity is reaching epidemic proportions as more and more kids are spending their time indoors viewing screens instead of on sports fields. As a parent, you can take measures to improve these statistics, starting in your home. Even with the busy school year ahead, you can encourage your children to be more active with these simple strategies.
About the author:
David Reeves is the Marketing Director at Superior Grounds For Play in Carrollton, GA. He has been a community coach for soccer, cross-country and basketball for over 10 years. Grounds For Play offers play structures and equipment to encourage physical development and imagination.