During the hot summer months, you might be wondering how to keep your children physically active. While high temperatures might tempt you to sit inside all day, health experts say it's important to keep moving.
Here's a look at why regular exercise is so good for your child, plus creative ideas for safe fun during the hot weather.
"To stay healthy and well, all children need at least an hour of physical activity each day – either structured or free play. Preschool children need even more," says Anna Lorenzi, MPH, Health Program Planner at Get Up & Go by Children's Health℠ supported by Kohl's Cares. "Being active has a multitude of benefits for kids – physically, mentally and socially."
"The child's activity doesn't have to last for a solid hour. Small bursts – 15 minutes here, 15 minutes there – are fine," says Lorenzi.
Water activities are a great way to stay cool and active in the summer heat. Even if you don't have access to a swimming pool or splash pad, you can improvise. "With a water spigot and a hose, you can create your own splash pad at home," says Lorenzi. "Your kids will stay cool and get lots of great exercise at the same time."
Try the following water activities:
"Remember that most kids are not intrinsically motivated to start doing pushups and crunches. And that's OK," says Lorenzi. "Any physical activity is fine. Keep it fun."
In addition to water activities, consider these other summer exercises for kids.
Pull items out of your garage – buckets, broomsticks, lawn chairs, balls – and let your imagination take over.
"Within the obstacle course, you can create several play stations. Use a broomstick for limbo, walk while balancing on a wood beam or dribble a ball. Jump around a chair. Toss clothespins into a bucket," suggests Lorenzi. "You can even assign different children to create various stations."
With obstacle courses, kids can use their imaginations and stay physically active for hours.
They learn new skills and can help you out at the same time.
Teach Simon Says, Red Light/Green Light and Hide and Seek. Try hula hoops and jump ropes.
Move furniture to clear the floor, blow up balloons and turn on dance music. Encourage children to take turns stepping into the middle of the room and perform their favorite dance moves.
Incorporate music and dance into your cleaning routine. Kids can "boogie" around the house while helping parents dust the furniture or push the vacuum.
If your sofa has removable cushions, allow children to use cushions to build the walls of the fort. They can move chairs around to create tunnels and barricades. And, they can set up tents with old sheets and blankets.
Take turns creating a scavenger list. For example, search for a red book on the bookcase, a yellow duck in the toy box or a family photograph – anything that keeps your child engaged and active.
"Incorporating technology is a way to engage kids in physical activity," says Lorenzi. "Look for active video games where you use a handheld device with a sensor that incorporates movement into the game."
Go Noodle features dance and movement activities for elementary school children. You can also find Zumba and yoga sites that cater to children.
Whatever activity you choose, do it with your child whenever possible – as a family.
"While it's healthy for kids to play by themselves, parents are their children's biggest role models," explains Lorenzi. "If kids see their parents being active and enjoying it, they will be more motivated to be active as well."
When playing outside during the summer, make sure to watch for in children. Take the following steps to keep kids safe:
The Get Up & Go team created easy-to-use exercise cards to help children and parents stay active together. Download the exercise cards for inspiration. Plus, see even more ideas to stay active indoors and at home.
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