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Healthy Highlights for Parents

Healthy Highlights for Parents provides a resource specifically directed at parents discussing nutrition, physical activity, sedentary behavior, sleep, and other health related topics.

A young black family with two small children staying fit together. They are power walking along the waterfront of a city on a sunny day, having fun with the 7 year old little girl and her 3 year old brother leading the way.
April 2017: Jump Into Spring and Get Your Family Moving!

Spring is here and this means that warm, sunny weather is right around the corner! Spring and summer days provide us with more hours of daylight and thus more opportunities to be active with your family after the work day!

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The United States Department of Health and Human Services recommends that children engage in aerobic activities for at least 60 minutes every day! Aerobic activities are those that raise someone’s heart rate and increase their breathing and include activities such as fast walking, jogging, dancing, riding a bike, or swimming. You may think that your children are getting a sufficient amount of aerobic exercise during their school day, but research has shown that time devoted to just exercise during physical education classes is declining and children are getting lower than recommended levels of exercise during recess. 1-5 So, what does that mean for you as a parent? It means, that parents today need to focus their efforts towards helping their children get more activity in their day!

Many children are involved in extracurricular sports such as dance, football, baseball, basketball, or soccer and you may find that the majority of your child’s evenings are spent being active at a sport’s practice. On the nights your child is at practice, it just may not be feasible to fit in more activity as family and it is likely that your child is getting their recommended level of exercise for the day. However, not all children participate in extracurricular sports and some children do not play in a sport year-round. Therefore, if your child’s time is not consumed by sports practices in the evening, then this means you have plenty of time to be active together! Being active with your children allows you to spend quality time with them and set a positive example for your children! If you find yourself struggling to come up with activities you can do together as a family, here is a list of some ideas to get you started:

  1. Put some music on start a dance party! Get creative and turn your living room into a disco! Move the furniture so there is enough room for everyone to dance, turn the lights down, consider using a flashlight as a strobe light, put your children’s favorite music on, and dance away!
  2. Do a weekly sports night: Choose one night a week and make it sports night! If you have more than one child at home, take turns letting each child pick a new activity each week. As a family, go outside and play the sport your child has chosen. Don’t know the rules of the sport your child picked? Check out this website that provides the rules of popular sports so you can learn and teach your children!
  3. Go for a pre or post dinner walk: It’s simple and easy! If you have a dog, take the dog with you too! Don’t feel comfortable walking around your neighborhood? Consider a local park with walking trails that you can take your family to. To make the walk more exciting, try turning it into a game – have everyone look for certain objects on the walk or try to collect small objects such as rocks.

For more activities you can do together as a family, please visit:


    1. Mota, J., Silva, P., Santos, M. P., Ribeiro, J. C., Oliveira, J., & Duarte, J. A. (2005).
      Physical activity and school recess time: Differences between the sexes and the relationship between children’s playground physical activity and habitual physical activity. Journal of Sports Sciences, 23(3), 269-275.
    2. Nader, P. R. (2003). Frequency and intensity of activity of third-grade children in physical
      education. Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine, 157. 185-190.
    3. Nettlefold, L., McKay, H. A., Warburton, D. E. R., McGuire, K. A., Bredin, S. S. D., &
      Naylor, P. J. (2011). The challenge of low physical activity during the school day: At recess, lunch, and in physical education. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 45(10), 813-819.
    4. Ridgers, N. D., Stratton, G., & Faiclough, S. J. (2005). Assessing physical activity during recess using accelerometry. Preventive Medicine, 41, 102-107.
    5. Scruggs, P. W. (2007). Quantifying activity time via pedometry in fifth- and sixth-grade
      physical education. Journal of Physical Activity & Health, 4, 215-227.

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