Let’s get kids active this summer!

Written by Dr. David Geier, American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine

Now that school is out, kids have time to play and get exercise. Unfortunately, far too many children spend hours each day watching television and doing other activities in front of a screen rather than being physically active.

In a 2013 policy statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Communications and Media estimated that 8- to 10-year-olds spend about eight hours each day engaging in various forms of media. Older children spend over 11 hours each day on their phones, watching TV or using different media.

Additionally, children and adolescents are not getting exercise or eating healthy foods. The YMCA and American Academy of Pediatrics surveyed parents of 5- to 12-year-old children. Only 47% of those parents said their kids engaged in 60 minutes or more of daily exercise, sports, or physical activity. Also, many kids will eat unhealthy foods and drink beverages filled with sugar. Those diets, combined with low levels of physical activity, can contribute to childhood obesity.

We must encourage our kids to engage in regular physical activity during the summer. These suggestions below might be helpful.

Encourage your kids to play outside

Kids are much more likely to be physically active outside than indoors, especially at home. Encourage them to go to the park, play with their friends, ride bikes, and play sports like soccer, basketball, and baseball.

Sign them up summer camps

Summer camps, either in your area or away from home, can be great ways to help kids have more fun when school is out. Plus your children will get exercise, often even more than the recommended amounts.

Enroll them in other activities

Even if they aren’t full-day camps, kids can take daily classes and activities such as martial arts, hiking, kayaking and canoeing, swimming, and so much more. Not only can these activities be fun, but you might also expose them to hobbies they want to continue throughout the year.

Demonstrate physical activity

We must be good role models for our children. If kids see their parents open a bag of potato chips and watch TV after work, they will think it’s acceptable for them to do it too. We need to get outside and run, go to the gym, and eat healthy foods. Or we can play and exercise with our kids!

What will you do to get kids active this summer?