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Health & Wellbeing

Make Your Child’s Summer Awesomely Active (6 Tips for Better Fitness)

Young Girl with a Bike in the Garden

As kids across the country welcome six weeks of freedom, some parents are feeling anxious about the summer break. It is easy to underestimate the magnitude of this transition. Yet, as anybody with young children knows, it involves huge adjustments to work and family life.

School plays a big part in keeping young people disciplined, organised and physically active. When it’s off the table, unhealthy habits can form. Whether it means long hours on the PlayStation, arguments at the dinner table or tricky childcare provisions, it’s a challenge at times. And the recent focus on summer fitness is an added pressure for parents.

We know it can be tough to keep kids active during the summer break. However, with levels of youth fitness in sharp decline, it should be a top priority for all parents. Prolonged inactivity has worse consequences than boredom. Sedentary kids have weaker muscles and bones, higher blood pressure, increased blood cholesterol and a greater risk of obesity.

So, it’s imperative that families find ways to get moving. There will be obstacles – lack of time, money, enthusiasm – but it’s easier than you think to get started. And getting started is the key. Teachers, health experts and policymakers don’t expect families to go from sedentary to superhero. But they do stress the importance of taking practical steps towards better health.

Here’s some simple changes you can make to improve your child’s fitness this summer: 

Limit Screen Time

Televisions, games consoles and iPads can be superb learning tools. However, they typically require lots of sitting or standing and, thus, keep kids from more vigorous activities. Limit screen time to one hour per day and encourage your child to get creative with their time. Make some exceptions for video workouts, dance routines and physical games.

Click to learn how video games like Just Dance are supporting weight management.

Join a Sports Team or Club

If finding time is a struggle, sign your child up to a local sports club or team. It’s a great way for busy parents to ensure kids stay active. These clubs are safe, social and usually inexpensive to join. It does, of course, depend on which sport you choose. To save cash, choose activities that don’t need specialist kit, such as football, basketball or netball.

Practise Mindful Eating

One of the easiest ways to manage calorie consumption is to allow your child to eat when hungry. The majority of us eat because we’re bored or accustomed to eating at certain times. Rather than constantly checking up on hunger and offering snacks, wait for them to ask. The more active and engaged they are, the less they’ll fixate on food. When they do get hungry, it’ll be because their body really needs the fuel.

Don’t Use Food as a Reward

Similarly, avoid using food as a reward. It leads to unhealthy habits as kids start to associate eating with comfort. While it might sound harmless, consider the potential consequences. Emotional eaters use food as a mood enhancer and are more likely to be overweight. If you want to praise your child, a toy or a day trip is much better than cake and ice cream.

Utilise School Resources

Many schools offer resources designed to help children stay active. If your child attends an Amaven Healthy School, they get access to a wealth of games, advice and physical activities. From video workouts to healthy eating fact sheets, quizzes and information on child development, families have everything they need to enjoy a fit and healthy summer.

Build a Summer Bucket List

You don’t need to be present all the time to inspire your child to move more. If you’re away at work during the week, spend the weekend creating a summer bucket list. Come up with a collection of activities – big and small – that ignite your little one’s imagination. They might include climbing a tree, catching a fish, camping out in the garden, finding a bird’s feather, growing a sunflower or burying a time capsule.

Can you think of any other active ways to spend the summer? Share your favourite activities with us on Facebook or Twitter.