Sunshine and warm days should make it easy to get up and get active. It is recommended that children get 60 minutes or more of physical activity every day. This can be challenging as screen time competes with outdoor playtime. So, a plan may be needed.
Some communities develop new opportunities by adding extra programs during the summer months. Summer camps offer unique opportunities to participate in a variety of activities including sports, arts and crafts. Museums, parks, zoos, aquariums and other local attractions can keep the mind and body moving.
Adults play a big role in helping children develop healthy habits, so make summer activities a family affair.
- Model the desired behavior. If an adult or parent leads an active lifestyle, the child is more likely to do the same.
- Make moving routine. Create expectations and rituals around fitness as a family. Take a walk after dinner and perform housework and yard work chores together.
- Include physical activity in summer vacation planning. Choose destinations where swimming, biking, rowing, kayaking, dancing, walking, running, hiking, and active adventures are available.
- Take advantage of free or low-cost public parks, basketball courts, tennis courts, volleyball courts and baseball diamonds.
- Encourage children to be active with their friends through games (tag, hopscotch, basketball, biking), toys (balls, kites, jump ropes, sidewalk chalk), and events (birthday parties, camping trips, sports).
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests limiting kids’ total screen time – time spent watching TV, playing video games, and using a computer or smartphone – to no more than 1-2 hours per day.
- Don’t allow electronic devices during mealtime, and don’t use screen time as a reward or punishment.
Simple projects done together can make it easy to stay active.
- Get out the hose and sponge and wash the family car.
- Walk the dog with the whole family.
- Plant and care for a vegetable garden, then cook the vegetables for healthy meals.
- Spend a day filled with water activities and games with the family at the pool or lake.
Enjoy the sunshine and stay active!
Submitted by Marcy DeJonge, UNL Extension Assistant, Harlan & Furnas County