Kids are more likely to gain weight during the summer. And this is especially true for children who are already overweight.
Kids have less structure during the summer, often staying up late and sleeping in, and don’t have regular mealtimes during the day. Staying up later means having more opportunities for snacking, and sleeping later in the day means losing opportunities to be active.
Without structure, kids can easily get bored and make extra trips to the refrigerator or freezer between meals. Being at home most of the day provides greater availability of snacks and more time to spend online, gaming, watching movies and other sedentary behaviors.
• Provide structured meal and snack times to prevent constant snacking.
• Keep in mind that summertime favorites such as hot dogs, ice cream, popsicles and the like should be eaten in moderation, not frequently throughout the week.
Provide structured activities to keep kids busy, such as:
• Art projects,
• Obstacle course, and
• Enroll in swim lessons and summertime sports.
Make time for regular family physical activity. Bike rides, walks or other physical activities after dinner and on the weekends can help the whole family stay fit.
• When it’s too hot to go outside, engage the family in indoor exercise activities to stay active.
• Timeless games such as Twister and calisthenic challenges during TV commercial breaks are simple and fun ways to engage children in physical activities, but new technology-based fitness opportunities like the Nintendo Wii can offer plenty of exercise in the comfort of your own home.
• Short periods of activity—10 minutes of vigorous activity three times a day—will provide a great source of exercise for kids without challenging their short attention spans.
Even a summer trip away from home can be planned with an active lifestyle in mind. Look for places to go that include outdoor hiking, bike riding or simply open space to keep the body moving.
If you are “stay-cationing,” then make the most of where you are, even if it just means a pick-up game in the yard or a trip to the local park.
Remember, keeping your kids and yourself fit should be fun, not a chore, and spending time getting fit together also means getting more time together as a family, which is what summer is all about!
Victoria MacKenzie, a Ramona resident, is the group fitness coordinator for Ramona Fitness Center. She has been a fitness instructor and personal trainer for 12 years.