Spring is here, and this means warm, sunny weather is right around the corner! Spring and summer days provide us with more hours of daylight and more opportunities to be active with our families after the work day! 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 raise one’s heart rate above a normal resting heart rate and increase one’s breathing. These activities can include fast walking, jogging, dancing, riding a bike, or swimming. Most parents believe their children get a sufficient amount of aerobic exercise during their school day, but research indicates that time devoted to just exercise during physical education classes is declining. In addition, children are getting lower than recommended levels of exercise during recess. 1-5 So, what does this mean for you as a parent? It means, parents, today, need to focus their efforts towards helping their children get more physically active every day!
Many children are involved in extracurricular sports, such as dance, football, baseball, basketball, or soccer, and you may find that many of your child’s evenings are spent being active at a sport’s practice. On the nights your child has sport’s practice, it may not be feasible to fit in more activity as a family. In fact, your child is probably getting his or her 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, you may have more time to be active together as a family! Being active with your children allows you to spend quality time with them and set a positive example 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:
Play some music, and 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, and consider using a flashlight as a strobe light or spot light. Play a variety of types of music, or let your children take turns choosing songs – just get moving and dance away!
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: http://www.rulesofsport.com/
Go for a pre or post dinner walk: It’s simple and easy! If you have a dog, take the dog with you! Don’t feel comfortable walking around your neighborhood? Consider a local park with walking trails. To make the walk more exciting, try turning it into a game – have everyone look for certain objects on the walk or collect small items, such as rocks.
For more activities you can do together as a family, please visit:
- 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.
- Nader, P. R. (2003). Frequency and intensity of activity of third-grade children in physical education. Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine, 157, 185-190.
- 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.
- Ridgers, N. D., Stratton, G., & Faiclough, S. J. (2005). Assessing physical activity during recess using accelerometry. Preventive Medicine, 41, 102-107.
- Scruggs, P. W. (2007). Quantifying activity time via pedometry in fifth- and sixth-grade physical education. Journaly of Physical Activity & Health, 4, 215-227.