by Mia Lazarewicz, Certified Personal Trainer
A daily exercise program has been shown to improve children’s well-being both mentally and physically. We already know that physical activity helps to maintain a healthy weight and builds strong bones, brains, muscles and other tissues. But, staying active benefits other systems as well. From decreasing stress and boosting self-esteem, to decreasing anxiety and improving sleep, exercise positively impacts your child across the health spectrum. With the long summer days ahead, helping your kids stay active and healthy is a breeze. Bonus: you get all the benefits, too!
Warm weather provides a plethora of opportunities for fun fitness. Turn off the TV, video games, computers and cell phones (yes, yours, too) and head outside instead. Climb trees; take a walk; play tag, soccer or a simple game of catch in the park. Kids love to exercise with their parents and you can set a great example at the same time. Many outdoor chores double as exercise as well: pulling weeds, mowing the lawn, clipping the bushes, raking and bagging the trimmings. If you garden, encourage your kid to get muddy and dirty (great for the immune system) and help you plant flowers or grow vegetables. With the latter, kids get to complete the cycle by eating the healthy things they’ve grown themselves.
For a more organized sport, many summer camps revolve around being active. Your kids may discover they love a sport they’ve never tried before. You can also look for community leagues in kickball, softball, soccer, rock climbing and many other sports the entire family can enjoy. A hike in your area can open your eyes to a part of the neighborhood you may never have explored before.Try searching for one near you on www.localhikes.com. Finally, public swimming pools abound during summer. Learn together how to use a diving board, or have races across the pool; blue vanilla slush goes to the winner!
You and your child should aim for at least an hour of exercise a day. Many fun outings can double as workout time: a theme park or county fair can provide for miles of walking in-between all the rides and games; so can creating a scavenger hunt around your town or heading to a farmers’ market to get food for dinner; or a day at the zoo, aquarium or museum.
One last summer bonus: fresh, healthy, delicious food can be found everywhere you turn, so take advantage and try new recipes or even new foods entirely. Don’t be surprised if you’re delighted by the results!