Summer is here, the kids are home, and they’re going straight to the couch! You watch them in exasperation as they stay up all night on their cell phone, iPad or PlayStation, then sleep until the afternoon, only to wake up and go straight back to the devices.
You know they need a break from school, but you don’t want them to become completely inactive either. It must be important for them to get up and move, right?
Well, you are so right! Children need daily physical activity to stimulate healthy growth of body and mind. Government physical activity guidelines recommend that children and adolescents get an hour or more of moderate-to-vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity each day.
The American College of Sports Medicine recently reported that only 25% of teens ages 12-15 get the daily recommended amount of physical activity. So how do you achieve this in a fun way without feeling like you’re forcing them? There are lots of fun and enjoyable ways to keep kids active this summer. The best way to do this is to involve the whole family.
Charles R. Swindoll, a renowned Christian pastor and author, put it well: “Every day of our lives we make deposits in our children’s memory banks. Children will remember the habits formed and follow them for the rest of their lives. Our influences as parents are far greater than we might imagine. It will mean so much more to them if you are willing to stand up and participate alongside them.
If you have a pool or access to a pool, this is a great way to get everyone moving without it feeling like exercise. There are many pool games to play with children, such as Marco Polo. In this game, one person is blindfolded and says “Marco” while everyone else scatters around the pool saying “Polo” until someone is tagged.
Another game is Categories. Everyone lines up against a wall with the person who is “it” of the other.
This person picks a category, like “colors,” for example, and plugs their ears until everyone picks their own color. The “It” person then calls out different colors until one of the others is named. They then run across the pool and the first person to touch their opposite wall then becomes “It” and chooses a different category.
There are countless other pool games you can research that your kids will love (a Google search for “kids pool games” will bring up dozens of great ideas). In fact, the Categories game can also be played without a pool, on land or through sprinklers.
For days when the weather is nice or you don’t have access to the pool, try a nice bike ride or walk. We live in a beautiful place full of trails and a mountainous landscape just waiting to be explored. Some great trails to explore in the area include the Disney Trail in Rocky Face, the Raisin Woods Bike Trail in Dalton, the Arrowhead Wildlife Interpretive Trail in Rome, Glen Falls in Walker County, and even Cloudland Canyon State Park in Trenton. . These are full of scenic views including trees, flowers, rocks, waterfalls and abundant wildlife. It can also be a wonderful opportunity to incorporate learning without it feeling like school. Bring a picnic with extra healthy snacks.
If you’re not feeling very adventurous, you can always opt for an evening family bike ride or stroll around the neighborhood or the Loop in Dalton. The Loop is a 4.58 mile sidewalk that goes around Dalton State College, down Tibbs Bridge, Tibbs Road, and up Walnut Avenue to the college. A fun game of baseball, kickball or flag football is always great too.
Just be sure to show the kids that you can’t wait to get out there and get moving. Don’t settle for the couch and Netflix this summer. Incentives, family goals, and even friendly competition can be added to help motivate everyone. One day your kids and your body will thank you for the extra physical activity.
Megan Stockburger is a personal trainer at the Bradley Wellness Center.