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Keeping Kids Active Going Back to School

September 6 2017

School is back in session! It is now imperative to stick to a routine and exercise in order to avoid falling into lazy habits. It is healthy for both the body and the mind for kids to stay active, especially now that they are spending long days sitting at a desk. 

To help reverse the impact of sitting most of the day, attempt to fill your child's afternoons with plenty of physical activities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that children need to meet the physical activity guidelines of at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day, including aerobic exercise and muscle strengthening activities. Making time to be involved with your family by playing sport and staying active is a great way to bond with one another. Not only will you all gain exercise benefits from it, but emotionally bonding together is an added bonus too!     

Check out these 5 tips for staying active while going back to school:  

Maintain Sports Skills  

Many kids spend summer break playing sporting games and picking up new skills. Now is a great time to maintain those skills they may have learned, and also build on the physical fitness achieved during the summer.  If your child’s youth sports team isn’t organizing skill sessions yet, take the time to kick a ball around or shoot some hoops at the park. Create fun games and little competitions. This helps generate enjoyment and build strategic sporting thinking. Try to organize afternoons with other parents to get teammates together, even if it’s just a casual practice or scrimmage.          

Plan outdoor activities   

September usually still boasts some nice weather, so don’t start holing up indoors just yet! Plan at least one day a week to do some healthy exercise as a family.  Make a whole day of it and pack some nutritious snacks to keep everyone fuelled. A weekend day is great for this, or making use of the evening light to get fresh air and clear the mind.  

Swimming & Water Sports 

Swimming is a great activity that teach an important life skill and teaches kids how to enjoy water sports safely. Swimming is also great for building muscle while being easy on the joints, making it a great activity for all ages, moms and dads included! Plan a pool, lake or beach day for the family and incorporate games into the activities. Most cities have many public indoor pools, which makes it a fantastic option for a rainy day as well. Once your children have the swimming basics there’s also lots of sports on the water to try out! The classics like synchronized swimming and water polo, or maybe something a little different like underwater hockey and stand-up paddle-boarding.   

Bike Riding 

Another great way to get more physical activity into your children’s day is cycling. Start planning a few days a week to bike with your children to and from school.  You can also plan to bike to soccer or basketball practice. Cycling is a practical sport that kids and adults can do together and builds the great habit of using a bicycle as a mode of transportation. It’s no surprise that adults who commute to work grows exponentially every year! Depending on the city you live in, many cities have bikes paths and trails to provide safer routes to bike on.  Teach your children the rules and etiquette of biking to ensure safety is always the priority. These days youth cycling clubs are becoming more commonplace.Remember biking encompasses; mountain biking, road biking, track biking and BMX, the opportunities to join in the fun are continuously growing.   

Hiking 

A perfect activity for a sunny weekend is hiking. Going on a nature walk or hike through trails is a great outdoor activity and encourages learning about nature, plants and animals along the way. Research if there are any local hikes in your area that are suitable for the entire family to do. Another positive spin off is that hiking promotes problem solving. Working out correct paths to take and where to put your feet engage the brain in making it problem solve to make the correct decision, so not only will you all physically get a good workout, but mentally as well! Even if it’s a little damp out, with some proper gear you can have plenty of fun getting a bit muddy. Maybe joining Boy Scouts or Girl Guides might be an option for your family. Scouts and Guides encourage physical activities and often put an emphasis on hiking and outdoor adventure. Also, they keep entry costs low, and often host fundraisers for families in need.   

Take active classes together  

Going into the new school year usually meant lots of new youth sport programs at local community centers. They often change their program times to schedule conveniently around school hours. Many will have a variety of youth sports and activities with something for everyone. What’s great about going to a community center, is mom and dad can hit the gym while the kids are in classes. Making it both convenient for the whole family and they are usually very affordable, with options for lower income families, or multiple children. Community programs are a great opportunity to try a new sport or activity!   Another option is to seek out your smaller, grassroots sports organizations. There are new leagues and clubs popping up every day with many different sporting options available. There is definitely a team or a sport for your child to try out. Smaller organizations usually mean more one-on-one time and a focus on community rather than winning.  

Activities around the house   

Believe it or not, but housework is another great way to stay active and doing chores can be more enjoyable and efficient if done together. This is a great opportunity to ingrain physical health as an important part of family life. Play music while cleaning or create a friendly competition or race to see who can complete tasks faster.  If you have a yard there is lots of work to be done outdoors in preparation for fall. Making a sport or game from everyday activities is a great way to keep your children engaged and happy. Having them associate family time with fun and good memories will create positive spin-offs for the future.      

Just have fun!

While it can be tough to balance work, school and homework, it is so important for physical and mental well-being to keep children - and their parents - active. Make a conscious choice to keep physical activity and sport a priority for the whole family. Research shows that parents who are physically healthy and active increase the likelihood that their children will be healthy and active too. Building your network with other parents on your teams and in your school can help by coordinating taking turns getting to and from practices, going to the park and kicking around the soccer ball or swimming at the beach. Try to plan as many activities as you can together with your kids and remember the main part is you’re staying active and having fun.

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