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Active Kids

Creative Ways to Stay Active during the School Year
By Priscilla Carvalho, MD



With the start of a new school year comes establishing new routines. The carefree days of summer spent bike riding, swimming and play dates, are replaced with packing lunches, organizing after-school activities and completing school work. We also know that with the start of a new school year comes a change of pace, often with hectic schedules. However, as your days become busier, it is important to keep your kids healthy and active by making regular exercise a daily priority.

In addition to the physical benefits of exercise, a recent article published by the American Academy of Pediatrics highlights the role of play in the emotional development of children. Play boosts learning, fosters active engagement and enhances brain function.

There are countless ways to ensure your kids are staying active throughout the school year; so get creative! Every child is different, meaning there is no right or wrong way to get your kids excited about staying active with regular exercise. To help you get started, we have provided a few suggestions to keep kids active even when the back-to-school routine takes full effect.

30 Minutes a Day:
Keeping your kids active doesn’t have to be a chore! Regular exercise is a vital component of child development and promotes the skills needed to lead a healthy and happy life. As little as 30 minutes of exercise per day improves heart health, reduces stress and increases productivity, boosts mood and leaves your body more energized. Therefore, taking a quick homework break with your kids by setting aside 30 minutes a day to dedicate to fun activity and exercise goes a long way!

Make Exercise a Family Activity:
Encouraging your child to stay active during the school year can be fun for the whole family! No matter the age, regular exercise is a critical component in maintaining good health. Leading by example is a great way to demonstrate the benefits of activity to your children, and can offer a great outlet for family fun and bonding.

As autumn approaches, enjoy the last few weeks of beautiful weather and engage in a variety of outdoor activities with your kids. Family friendly activities to get your kids up and moving include:

  • Walks around the neighborhood
  • Walks to and from school
  • Playground play before or after school
  • Bike rides, make sure you’re wearing your helmet!
  • Scooter rides
  • Roller skating
  • Jumping rope
  • Backyard games and sports, such as soccer or tag, after dinner

Indoor Games 
Keeping your kids up and moving isn’t limited to outdoor activities. As summer dwindles down, and fall weather becomes quickly replaced by winter, it is important to maintain an active routine. Some fun and unique indoor activities to try with your children may include:

  • Freeze dance: Dance when the music plays and freeze when the designated DJ stops the music. Pick out a few of your favorite songs and get your kids up and moving!
  • Learning new dance moves: There are always new dance moves being created and performed, so, explore Youtube and learn some new moves to show off during a dance party with your kids.
  • Balloon volleyball: Blow up a balloon and practice bumping, setting and serving the ball.
  • Simon Says: Play Simon Says with exercise-focused directions such as “Do 5 jumping jacks” or “Do 5 sits up”.
  • Create an indoor obstacle course: Get your kid’s blood pumping by setting up yarn mazes, pillow “hurdles” and other obstacles throughout the house. You can even make it a friendly family competition, whoever completes the course first wins!
  • Follow the Leader: Play follow the leader and take a walk around the house. You can even add more energetic movements such as jumps or squats.

Kid-Led Activities:
Get your kids excited about exercise by letting them take the lead! For example, brainstorm an assortment of about 10 possible activities and write them down on small sheets of paper. Put the sheets of paper in a bowl, mix them up, and allow your child to choose an activity from the bowl. You may also let your child:

  • Choose the route when going for walks or bike rides
  • Play their favorite songs when completing chores
  • Create new games to play after school
  • Choose an after school program or sport that most interests them

After School Activities:
After school activities are a great way to build exercise and activity into your child’s daily routine. When it comes to after school activities, there are a broad range of possibilities. Check out your local park district and YMCA to search for after-school sports, such as swimming, dancing or ice-skating, classes and other activities that your child may be interested in. By participating in after school activities, your child can receive the exercise they need, while making friends, learning new skills and enjoying themselves in the process!

To learn more about ways to keep your kids healthy and active this school year make an appointment with a DuPage Medical Group Family Medicine Physician or Pediatrician online now!



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