Summer is here! For most children, school is out and the vacation days are long. With more children than ever considered obese by the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), this is a very important time to plan out daily activities that discourage sedentary lifestyle, mindless snacking, and overuse of screens (TVs, computers, video games) to fill the day.
Childhood obesity is a growing problem in the United States, with more children than ever, 1 out of 3, considered obese. Of the children suffering from obesity, 70% are more likely to already have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as elevated cholesterol, elevated blood pressure, and increased glucose levels. Children who are overweight are at much higher risk of being overweight adults.
As parents, how do we help our children become more active? The CDC, Michelle Obama, and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) consider the problem so urgent, that programs have been developed by each to address the epidemic head on. The take home point of each program is to increase daily physical activity! Studies have shown that less than 20% of children get the minimum of 60 minutes of daily physical activity recommended by all the AAP. By decreasing the amount of screen time, decreasing the amount of mindless, empty calorie snacking, and increasing movement, you will be on your way to teaching your child healthy habits that will last a lifetime. Below are some ideas to help recharge your child for the summer and make physical activity fun.
- Plan out your summer activities. Check with the Y or local parks and recreation for opportunities with day or resident camp, swimming, arts and crafts or sports.
- Drink water. Have fun with flavor; give it some pizzazz with a slice of lemon, lime, orange or even cucumber.
- Take a walk. Map out a new neighborhood or hiking trail in your area and get your family to explore on foot. It’s a great way to make Saturday a healthy, active start to the weekend.
- Next time you get, “I’m bored,” give your kids a jump rope. They can be active alone or with a group.
- Plant a personal or community garden and learn about healthy foods. Time will fly by while being active outside and you will have the reward of freshly grown vegetables.
- Use screen time as a reward for physical activity, not a substitute.
- Be a healthy role model for your child by exercising and eating right. Sign up for a local fun run, and have your child cheer you on the sidelines. Who knows, they just might join you the next time!
Resources for more information on this important topic: