Family YMCA of Black Hawk County

Seven ways to keep your kids healthy, active and engaged this summer!

Summer is upon us and with it children often break from routine—mornings spent sleeping in, afternoons spent watching television or playing video games in the cool air conditioning and evenings enjoying a ice cream cone before bed. It may sound great, but a summer spent like this can have lasting negative effects. Kids are less physically active and engaged in learning during the summer months and research shows that children gain weight two to three times faster in summer than during the school year. In addition to that, kids can fall behind academically because they don’t have access to out-of-school learning opportunities. Here are 7 ways you can provide a healthy summer experience for your kids that you can feel good about:

7. High Five the Fruits and Veggies

Make sure kids get at least five servings a day, the minimum number nutritionists recommend to maintain healthy childhood development. And to keep kids’ taste buds evolving, have everyone in the family try at least one bite of a new fruit or vegetable at least once a month. Check out this link on healthy, fun recipes that you can make with your kids this summer!

6. Keep them Active

Children need at least an hour a day of physical activity. There isn’t a better time than summer to meet this recommendation. Some of these things might be appealing for your family:

  • Set a family goal of great health by teaming up for community or charity events like races, walks, fun runs, bike rides, etc.
  • Find local sports clubs, camps, and teams to sign your kids up for.
  • Go for family walks or bike rides, play yard games, or go to a local pool.

5. Reduce Screen Time

Keep screen time down to a maximum of two hours a day. Two hours a day is plenty of time for your kids to make progress in their video game, or watch a couple episodes of their favorite TV show. Set a specific time for “screen time” to keep routine in your child’s life. For example allowing time in the evening after they have spent the day being active. Maybe even use it as a reward for eating healthy or for helping out around the house.

4. Keep Their Brains Busy

Prevent summer learning loss! There are many ways in which you can encourage summer learning for your children to help them grow every day. Many local libraries often hold summer reading programs and various learning opportunities for kids. Another option is to make it a family effort to read books together or to each other. Plan a day around your child’s hobbies – zoo, nature reserve, planetarium, aquarium, history museum, etc. Make TV time educational. If the TV is on, make it a beneficial learning experience. Our personal favorite is registering your child for the #BestSummerEver at Y Day Camp 😉

Check out this list of more ways to keep the little brains sharp.

3. Practice Sun Safety

Sunlight is important because it provides our bodies with Vitamin D that helps us maintain strong bones and muscles. It also helps improve mood by helping our bodies release serotonin, a mood enhancing hormone. All this good comes with some bad of course. A bad sunburn can leave you and your kids in pain and can increase risk of skin cancer later in life. It is important to apply sunscreen of at least SPF 30 on your child, while reapplying every hour or so. Remember that the sun’s harmful rays are strongest from about 11 am to 3 pm, so perhaps eating lunch in the shade for a while during this time might be a good idea.

2. Volunteer Together

Find a cause that matters to the kids. Open their eyes to a world beyond themselves and the rich rewards that come from making a difference. Take a look here at some ideas your family could engage in this summer to make a difference.

1. Make Sleep a Priority

Doctors recommend 10-12 hours of sleep a day for children ages 5-12 and 7-8 hours per night for adults. Sleep plays a critical role in maintaining our healthy immune system, metabolism, mood, memory, learning and other vital functions. While sleeping patterns will surely vary in the summer, it’s still important to practice good habits and try to stick to a routine.

One of the largest sleep obstacles for most people is the use of electronic devices such as TVs, computers, tablets and smartphones. These all give off ‘blue light’, which can make it more difficult for you and your child to fall asleep. Having these devices in bedrooms leads to the obvious temptation to stay up late, however, this light also disrupts human body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that helps prepare us for good sleep. This hormone is produced by our bodies in the dark, which is why we sleep at night.

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The YMCA isn’t ONLY about getting in shape. It is a community resource organization, aimed at improving the spirit, mind, and body of all who want to participate.

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