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Keep Your Child Physically Active During the Summer

Mom, Dad, Daughter, and Son playing soccer together in a field

It’s that time of year again! The final bell rings and your kid rushes home, hands you their final report card, and tosses their backpack into the corner of their room, where it will stay until August. 


That’s right– summertime is finally here!


If you have school-aged kids, they’re most likely super excited for the beginning of summer because it means a much-needed break for them. As the weeks go by, however, you’ll probably start to notice that your child isn’t as active as they were during the school year. With an inconsistent schedule, no responsibilities, and a lack of organized sports to keep them active, your child might spend the whole summer snoozing away, binging shows on the couch, or holed up in their room. 


In this blog, we’ll discuss the importance of your child remaining active during the summer, fun ways to stay active with your children, and how to stay safe and healthy in the summer heat. 


Benefits of Physical Activity

During their summer vacation, your kids will be tempted to spend the weeks lounging around the house. While they might try to convince you that this is a relaxing and restful way for them to spend their time, lack of physical activity can have devastating effects on your child’s overall health. 


In contrast, staying active not only improves their physical health but other aspects of their wellbeing, too! Here are some of the main ways that physical activity can help your kids:


Improved Mind-Body Connection

A lot of exercise requires paying attention to how your body moves. For children, this helps them improve their motor skills, hand-eye coordination, agility, and reaction time.


Playing sports is a great way for your children to learn these skills as they exercise! We’ll discuss different sports your kids can play during the summer, as well as other great summer activities, in the next section. 


Reduced Risk of Disease

Exercise is great for your body, no matter your age! Children who exercise regularly have a decreased risk of developing chronic illnesses and other health problems later in life, such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer. 


Better Sleep Quality

We know that bedtime can be a struggle for some families; not only do you want to make sure your kids get enough sleep, but you also want them to sleep well. Parents of young children will be happy to hear that regular physical activity also helps your kiddos sleep better!


With the change in routine and lack of a consistent schedule throughout the summer, your child might showcase signs of restlessness or excessive energy. Regular physical activity allows kiddos to use up all of their energy throughout the day, which increases the likelihood that they can get a good night’s rest at the end of the day. 


Improved Mental Health

On a physiological level, exercise releases endorphins into your brain that improve your mood. Given the increased number of children and teens struggling with depression and anxiety, exercise provides adolescents with a healthy outlet for their emotions and a coping strategy for hard-to-handle feelings. 


In their teenage years, body image issues, lack of self-assurance, and other insecurities become amplified for your kids. Regular physical activity helps your kids combat these issues! When you teach your children fun ways to stay active, you help them view exercise as a fun way to keep themselves healthy, and you show them that they are strong, capable individuals. 


Healthy, Lifelong Habits

Habits formed in childhood tend to last an entire lifetime. Developmentally, your child’s younger years are the most crucial; teaching your kids the importance and the joy of exercise almost guarantees that they will continue to prioritize physical activity for the rest of their lives!


Fun Summer Activities

When you think of exercise, do you think of long, exhausting runs? Maybe you think about lifting heavy weights in the gym? 


While both of these are great ways to get exercise, your kids might find traditional methods of exercise boring or even inaccessible to them, depending on their age. There are plenty of other ways to stay active and still have fun while you do it! 


Outdoor Activities

Summer is a great time to spend some time outside enjoying the fresh air. Try doing some of the following activities with your kiddos this summer!


Swimming

Perhaps the most exciting summer activity is swimming! Swimming is a wonderful activity because it works all of the body’s muscles, including your heart, and it’s a low-impact workout. This means swimming allows you to get in some cardio without putting any pressure on your joints and bones! 


Just because you don’t have a pool doesn’t mean you can’t swim! Many communities and cities have public pools, where entrance is either a small fee or free. Look around, and see if your community has a pool that your kiddos could swim in this summer! 


Sports 

A simple way for your kids to stay active this summer is by playing a sport! Sports are a great way for your child to get some exercise with their siblings or friends. Some simple sports for your child to try out this summer include: 

  • Soccer

  • Sand volleyball

  • Basketball

  • Tennis or pickleball

  • Baseball or softball

If you have all the right supplies, many local parks have courts or fields where you can reserve a time slot for free. Some parks even rent out supplies, so check in with your local park or recreation center to see what resources are available to you, 


You can also see if your child is interested in joining an organized sports team this summer! Not only does this allow them to stay active, but it provides them with a little bit of structure and routine. Plus, they’ll have an opportunity to make new friends! 


Walking or Hiking

A great way to get some exercise and spend some time together as a family is to make time for family walks! Incorporating time for a walk together with your family not only allows everyone to get some exercise, but it also provides an opportunity for connection and establishes a sense of routine for your kiddos. 


Walking is great because you can walk just about anywhere- at the park, on a trail, and even in your own neighborhood! If you live near trails, though, you can also take your family for an occasional hike! While planning a hike takes more time and effort than a simple walk, hiking gives your children an opportunity to explore nature while you spend time together as a family. 


Indoor Activities

We know that the summer heat can be a huge inhibitor for children and families . While we’ll explore ways to stay safe while spending time outside, there are also ways to help your child stay active in the house. Some activities we love for indoor exercise include:

  • Dancing: Put on some tunes and have a dance party with your kiddos! Not only can dancing be great cardio, but it’s also easy, tons of fun, and a great way to bond with your family. 

  • Jump rope: Jumping rope is a wonderful way for your kid to burn some energy! You can come up with challenges and tricks for your child to try with their jump rope, if they get bored. 

  • Simon Says: While “Simon Says” isn’t necessarily a physically active game, you can make it whatever you want! When it’s your turn to be “Simon”, pick prompts for your kids such as jumping jacks, push-ups, or jogging in place. This is a simple but interactive way to help your kids incorporate a little bit of physical activity into their day! 


Spending Time Safely Outside

Summertime is the perfect time to spend some time outdoors with your family. After all, fresh air and sunlight are great for your health! 


However, with summer temperatures reaching over 100ºF in North Texas during the summer, you know that the summer heat can be absolutely brutal. It’s important that you and your family take time before heading outside to prepare for the heat, so you can keep your kiddos happy and healthy. 


Hydrate

Staying hydrated is one of the most important ways to stay healthy and comfortable while you exercise outside this summer. Dehydration can have an array of negative effects on your child’s health, so you’ll want to make sure your child gets plenty of fluids while they play outside. 


We know that kids aren’t always the most eager to drink water. Thankfully, there are other ways to increase your child’s water intake that you and your child will love! These include:

  • Reusable water bottles: If your child has a fun water bottle that they love, they will be more likely to want to drink water. Gift them a high-quality, durable water bottle with colors or a pattern that they love to encourage them to drink more water!

  • Fruit: Fruit with a high water content, such as apples or watermelon, can contribute to your child’s daily water intake. Plenty of delicious fruits are in season during the summertime, so take advantage of fresh fruit for your child’s hydration needs. 

  • Popsicles: For a fun summer treat, you can offer your child popsicles while they play outside! While sweet treats can be a part of a balanced diet, you can control how much sugar your kids consume by opting for fruit popsicles with no sugar added or even by making your own at home. 


Use Plenty of Sunscreen 

Many people either treat sunscreen like an afterthought, they only apply it during certain activities, or they apply it once and don’t touch it again for the rest of the day. 


If any of this sounds like your family’s approach to sunscreen, it’s time to get serious about sunscreen use. During summer, the sun stays out longer, which means your exposure to the sun is more direct. Prolonged exposure to the sun can have devastating effects! Short term, your child can experience discomfort, pain, and even sickness from sunburn. Long-term exposure to the sun without protection can greatly increase your child’s risk of developing skin cancer later in life. 


How do you protect your child from the sun’s harmful rays, then? We wrote an entire blog about it, but here are the basics:

  • Apply any time your child will be in the sun for longer than twenty minutes

  • Reapply sunscreen once every two hours, at minimum

  • Find a sunscreen that’s broad spectrum, SPF 30 or more, and waterproof


Beat the Heat and Stay On Your Feet!

Summer break is meant to give your kids a break from the monotony of school. However, that doesn’t have to mean that your kiddos sit on the couch all summer binging cartoons! 


Exercise doesn’t have to be drag. With a little bit of intentionality and creativity, you can make sure that your children stay physically fit and active this summer! Work together as a family to make sure 


If you have questions or concerns about your child’s level of physical activity or ability, reach out to your child’s pediatric provider. Your child's health care provider can help you make informed decisions about appropriate activities for your kids based on their ability and needs. Get outside, get active, and get ready to enjoy your summer! 

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