Keeping Kids Active During the School Year
Fewer schools are offering p.e. everyday so as parents it’s more important than ever to ensure kids have adequate opportunities for physical activity throughout the week.
The recommended guideline for daily activity for children is 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per day, however fewer than 1 in 4 kids actually meet that guideline (CDC, 2018). The hour of physical activity can be broken down into shorter spurts, for instance time playing at recess, walking home from school, plus playing at the park or at soccer practice.
Physical activity is crucial to growth, development, and health of kids. Getting enough physical activity can lead to improved cognitive development, meaning better grades, memory, and concentration. Physical activity can also help kids build confidence, improve muscle and bone growth and development, as well as help kids maintain a healthy weight while preventing high cholesterol and even reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. Plus it’s a great way for kids to have fun, and can help them to get better sleep, and manage stress in a healthy way.
While adults may force themselves to do exercise they don’t enjoy, kids will not. It’s important to keep physical activity enjoyable and age-appropriate for kids. Ask for their input on activities and try new things together.
More ideas for physical activity:
- Choose a designated park day. Pick a day of the week that works in your schedule and play at the park, or explore different parks each week. Having activity built into the schedule makes it easier to follow through on, and kids are more likely to cooperate when they are aware of the schedule ahead of time.
- Ride bikes together. This is a great way to build an important skill, help kids gain confidence, and have fun as a family.
- Take a hike. Choose a trail around San Diego and explore a new area together. Here’s some tips for staying safe while having fun outdoors.
- Play games together. Kick a soccer ball around, play catch, or Frisbee at the beach.
- Lead by example. Show your kids how important staying physically active by modeling healthy habits and inviting them to join you. Walk together, practice yoga or strength training together, or play a sport you enjoy as a family.
- Take a class. If your kids aren’t into the idea of participating on a sports team, local rec centers offer a wide variety of classes including various dance classes, martial arts, skateboarding, and surfing lessons.
- Start early. The earlier your kids are engaged in physical activity, the easier it is to keep up the habit. Encouraging kids to try new activities or build new skills while they are young is also much easier than when they are a tween or teen (though it’s always possible to learn a new skill!)
- If your family is looking for a fun and free way to get some extra physical activity and learn about health, the Carlsbad chapter of Walk with a Doc run by local pediatrician Dr. Natalie Muth, is a great opportunity for families to walk together, and learn about strategies for becoming a healthy and fit family. Walk with a Doc is held every Tuesday at 4pm at Stagecoach Park in Carlsbad, and a healthy snack is always provided. We meet at the lower parking lot by the picnic tables. Find out more at walkwithadoc.org/Carlsbad. We also have a Walk With a Doc chapter in Vista. Join Nurse Practioner Nicole Kastner every Thursday, 4:15-5:15pm at Vista Innovative Design Academy (VIDA) Middle School located at 740 Olive Ave, Vista, CA 92083. Meet at the outdoor lunch tables. Find out more at walkwithadoc.org/Vista.
If 60 minutes per day doesn’t seem doable with your family’s busy schedule, start with what you’re able to do. Something is always better than nothing when it comes to physical activity!
CDC Physical Activity Facts, Healthy Schools. (2018, April 9). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/physicalactivity/facts.htm
Cassandra Padgett is a Senior Health Educator and ACE certified health coach for the W.E.L.L. Clinic at Children’s Primary Care Medical Group- La Costa. The W.E.L.L. Clinic helps kids and families optimize health by making habit changes with nutrition, physical activity, sleep, stress management, and screen time. Cassandra also helps run the Carlsbad chapter of Walk with a Doc, and is passionate about helping kids and families improve health one small change at a time.