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Helping Your Kids Stay Physically Fit During the Summer Months

For most kids, there's really nothing that compares to the end of the school year. Classes, homework, and all formal schedules are done, and the most concern now is figuring out what to do with all that free time. Although hanging out in front of the computer or television is common, studies show that inactive kids are likely to encounter unhealthy summer weight gain. Getting your kids to exercise may be very challenging, but you can help get them enthused with the following tips.

Your kids don't have to join a gym, go to camp or participate in organized sports to stay active and physically fit during the summer months. Here are some ideas to get your kids up and moving while school is out:

  • Set limits for watching television and leisurely computer use.
  • Plan family activities that require walking - a trip to the zoo, a hike, visit to your local park or a day at the beach (walking through the sand is great exercise). Younger kids are sure to enjoy running around the playground.
  • Arrange fun games that consist of a lot of movement: play tag, kick ball, catch or hopscotch; jump rope; ride bikes; play dodge ball; or go swimming together.
  • Take advantage of the additional daylight during the summer and take after-dinner walks around the block. Make it part of your daily routine.
  • When going to the mall, park far away from the entrance so you have to walk. Walking briskly in the mall is also good exercise.
  • Assign everyday active chores, such as making beds, washing the car, gardening or vacuuming.
  • Turn on the sprinkler and let your kids run through the water. It is good exercise and a wonderful way to stay cool.
  • Take your kids swimming. Swimming is a great way to exercise the muscles.
  • When you're out, and the option is the stairs or the elevator, take the stairs whenever possible and get your kids in the habit of doing the same.
  • Be an example for your kids. Don't expect them to be active if you're not.

The American College of Pediatrics recommends at least an hour of physical activity most days of the week, but kids don't have to do 30 minutes or an hour at a time to reap the health benefits. Even five or ten-minute physical activities throughout the day are beneficial.

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