The benefits of keeping kids active and fit while school is out
Although they’re called the “Lazy Days of Summer,” the best summer days for children are filled with physically engaging activities that are challenging and fun. Summer days are for most children less structured and therefore most are looking for something engaging to do. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that children and adolescents aged six to 17 should have 60 minutes or more of physical activity each day. The majority of the 60 minutes should include aerobic activity that is either of moderate or vigorous intensity. The other portions of activity should include muscle strengthening and or bone strengthening activities. The best part about this is that it can easily be accomplished in a positive, fun environment such as the park, the swimming pool, or the back yard.
There are a multitude of benefits of regular physical activity for our youth. For physical health exercise builds healthy bones and muscles, improves muscular strength and endurance, and reduces the risk for developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and colon cancer (to name a few). For mental health, it improves self-esteem and reduces stress and anxiety. Research has also indicated that regular physical activity can have a positive influence on academic performance.
Think wise when being active in the summer heat. Try to plan outdoor physical activities in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the peak hours of sun exposure. Don’t forget to hydrate before, during, and after activity. Water is the best choice of drink to stay hydrated. Try to stay away from high calorie, high sugar drinks. Lastly, protect your children from the sun. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends wearing protective clothing, generously applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or more, and reapply approximately every two hours.
story by KATHLEEN O’LEARY WRIGHT, Curriculum Specialist Physical Education, Polk County Public Schools
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kathleen and Polk County Public Schools are vision partners with Building a Healthier Polk, an initiative of Polk Vision. For more information on the Building a Healthier Polk Initiative, visit www.polkvision.com/building-a-healthier-polk/. You can also find us on Twitter at @HealthierPolk and on Facebook.