The Benefits of Structured Summer Fun

Sweet summertime… the season full of pool days and beach trips that your family looks forward to all year. Summer means freedom from homework, the after-school hustle, and bustle, packing lunches, and the rush to catch the bus. Normal bedtimes, meal planning, and TV rules also sometimes take a break for summer. And while this break from structure is needed to refresh and reenergize for the next school year, this relaxed season isn’t always good for kids’ health.

Even though a break from the daily rise and grind can be relaxing, some parts of having a routine for a child are important to keep some structure present year-round, such as getting the right amount of sleep and making time to be active every day. Ever heard of “too much of a good thing”? This applies to kids too – too long of a break from structure can lead to unhealthy changes. In fact, a 2016 study found that children tend to gain weight faster and are more likely to become overweight or obese during the summer months.

How do you prevent kids from getting bored so they don’t plant themselves in front of the tv or play with electronics for long periods of time? As a parent, we want to make the right choices to positively impact our children’s health and create life-long healthy habits. By having a daily or weekly plan of activities for the kids to do could mean less screen time, less snacking, and possibly less whining.

 

Get Outside and Get Active

There’s no better time than now to show kids that moving IS FUN! Don’t focus on calorie burning. Instead, help them try something new or find activities they like. Try games instead of traditional exercise as they will keep boredom at bay and the motivation will remain high! Short, quick but intense activities are anaerobic based and have a higher metabolic expenditure. Most outdoor games can be performed with little equipment and it “easily” tricks kids into increasing their activity levels – they are having fun and have no idea they’re working! If sports they enjoy sports, you can sign them up for a sports camp (just like the ones we offer here at AFF!) or a summer league. Maybe this is the year you finally take them out and teach them how to fly a kite, paddle a canoe, or finally have that family cannonball competition into the pool!

Here are a few other suggestions to help you make this summer a splash for your kids:

  • Sign up for swim lessons, swim club, or a local swim team
  • Join a local playgroup
  • Check out your local library or book store for story time
  • Create your own summer camp or activities plan.

 

WATER BALLOONS

Whether it’s a friendly water balloon fight or you tie it them in with your kids’ favorite game, water balloons simply SCREAM summer fun!

One of our KidZone’s biggest hits with kids is ANGRY BIRDS with water balloons. Kids already love this popular app, so let them play it in real life! Simply draw some pigs in chalk on the sidewalk or driveway, fill water balloons, use a sharpie marker to draw on angry bird faces and FIRE AWAY! This game keeps the attention for sure and beats the heat.

SPRINKLER GAMES

Sprinklers do more than make your grass grow – you can incorporate it into another game! Use it during a game of freeze tag, or turn it into a “car wash” and have the kids ride their bikes through it. They’ll stay active while keeping cool during in the summer heat!

SUMMERTIME = FAMILY TIME
In the midst of all the fun and freedom that summer brings, make it a point to make your family time a priority. Set a time every day to do something active and fun as a family — take a walk after dinner, ride your bikes to the pool, or have a family dance-off in the backyard. Every moment of fun counts toward the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity that kids need every day and the recommended 30 minutes that adults need to remain healthy, so make it a goal to have a healthy, fun summer as a family.

KID KABOOM & SUMMER SPORTS CAMPS

Summer camps are carefully planned out to keep kids interested, motivated, and having fun. You can find summer programs that focus on sports and some that provide a perfect combination of crafts and physical activity. If you’d like to learn about our summer programs for kids ages 2 – 14, click here.

Parker Osborne is the Youth Exercise Fitness Director at American Family Fitness Fredericksburg and has been with AFF since 2009. She also teaches AFF’s Coach by Color® indoor cycling class and coaches Fusion team training. Parker holds certifications with Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) as a Primary Group Fitness Instructor and G.E.A.R. Indoor Cycling Instructor, as well as the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) as a Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Youth Exercise Specialist. Parker has always had a lifelong dream of educating others, and in 2014 she graduated from Germana Community College with an A.A.S in Education (Cum Laude). When Parker isn’t teaching cycle or coaching Fusion, you’ll find her on the gym floor working out or enjoying family time with her husband and two girls. Follow her on Facebook @ Parker Pro Osborne and InstaGram (@Parker.Pro.Osborne) where she likes to share her tips and tricks on indoor cycling!

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