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Blog · Sep 14, 2021

Keeping kids active during summer break is one thing, but keeping them active once school starts is another challenge altogether. With the morning rush to get everyone out the door on time, a nonstop work day, the mad dash to get everyone home and fed at the end of the day, not to mention the added screen time from homework, it can seem impossible to find the time for the 60 minutes of daily physical activity your child needs. That’s right. Children and adolescents ages 6-17 should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day.

Before you throw your hands up and scream, “I don’t have another 60 minutes in my day,” take comfort in this good news. The 60 minutes of physical activity does not have to be continuous. It means your child won’t have to join a sports team or go for a run every day. Though it does mean they have to break a sweat. They need move enough to so that their heart rate increases and they breathe harder.

The key to keeping kids active during the school year is finding activities to make it easy and fun. Engaging them in activities that are age and ability appropriate will help your child feel successful increasing the likelihood they will want to continue with the activity. Keeping your attitude positive and your words encouraging will keep even the most reluctant kids moving.

Physical activity promotes stronger muscles and bones to help maintain a healthy weight.  Regular physical activity also promotes a better night’s sleep, increases energy levels, stimulates brain function, improves emotional health, and boosts cognitive development.

Consider doing activities together. Take a bike ride after dinner, go for a brisk walk, or turn on some music and break out your best dance moves. Don’t forget to get your children involved in household chores. Raking leaves, shoveling snow, gardening, vacuuming, and sweeping can add physical activity to your child’s day and ease your daily burden as a bonus!

Park farther away from the shops when doing your errands so you have to take more steps to reach your destination and encourage your child to take the stairs instead of the elevator.  If you have younger kids, play tag in the yard, go to the park, or play Frisbee. If you’re stuck indoors, play balloon volleyball, build an indoor obstacle course, or create a “race” course by sitting on a pillow case and using your arms and legs to scoot around the race track.

For older children, set up challenges to see who can sit on the wall the longest, do the most sit-ups, or hold a plank the longest. Then set goals and run the challenges weekly or monthly. Help your teens put together their own workout routine using exercises like pushups, jumping jacks, squats, and lunges.

Most importantly, embrace your role as a model for your children. Children mimic what they see you do. Demonstrate how physical activity can be a consistent part of your day. When they see you taking the active choice, chances are your children will want to make habits of these healthy choices too.

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