I hate to be the one to break the news to you….but, summer is almost over.
Almost time to go back to school. Even though I am a 12-month employee, I have taken full advantage of the longer days and spent many an evening working up a sweat on the Erie Canal Trail or at our beautiful state parks. Summertime in Central New York is heaven for those of us who like to stay physically active! Like mine, hopefully you and your kids’ summer has been filled with lots of physical activity… swimming in the pool or at the beach, riding bikes, playing ball or tennis, taking extra-long walks , running in some of the 5K races going on all around CNY, or participating in a grueling potato sack race.
I hope I didn’t ruin the mood by mentioning that six-letter word: school. You and your kids may be excited to get back into the familiar grind, but before you know it, you’re skipping your workouts to battle the crowds for back-to-school shopping, getting haircuts, and squeezing in last minute dental appointments and physicals. By the time September rolls around, your exercise routines may seem like a distant memory.
But, it doesn’t have to be that way! I realize that there are only so many hours in the day and that you and your children might not be able to commit as much time to being physically active as you did in July and August. But, remember: any movement is beneficial. It might look different than it did during the summer, and that’s OK. Changing your activities is good for the body because it targets different muscles, stimulates your brain, and staves off boredom. And, remember, schools are not just for reading, (w)riting, and (a)rithmatic! Hopefully, your children will be heading back to a robust physical education program, intermurals, or maybe even a sports team. Many classroom teachers are also realizing the benefits of infusing physical activity (PA) into their lesson plans to capitalize on its powerful impact on learning and academic success.
And, yet, if you feel you and your kids are still not getting enough exercise after summer comes to a close, First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s! Move website reminds us that we probably get—or could get—more activity than we realize:
- Give children toys that encourage physical activity like balls, kites, and jump ropes.
- Encourage children to join a sports team or try a new physical activity.
- Limit TV time and keep the TV out of a child’s bedroom.
- Facilitate a safe walk to and from school a few times a week.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Walk around the block after a meal.
- Make a new house rule: no sitting still during television commercials.
- Find time to spend together doing a fun activity: family park day, swim day or bike day.
- Issue a family challenge to see who can be the first to achieve a Presidential Active Lifestyle Award by committing to physical activity five days a week, for six weeks. Adults and children can both receive the award!
- Talk to your children’s principal or write a letter to your district superintendent to incorporate more physical education in schools.
- Encourage schools to hold recess prior to lunch to increase physical activity before mealtime.
- Volunteer to help with afterschool physical activity programs or sports teams.
- Be sure that children get the sleep they need. Most children under age five need to sleep for 11 hours or more per day, children age five to 10 need 10 hours of sleep or more per day, and children over age 10 need at least nine hours per day.
The Let’s Move! website is a great go-to for information on nutrition, weight management, and physical activity and addresses the needs of everyone: individuals, families, schools, and communities. I encourage you to take some time to explore this extremely comprehensive and inspirational site—it’s an awesome resource that every parent and teacher will want to add to their list of bookmarks!
Remember, any physical activity is beneficial and can/should be fun! If you don’t believe me, maybe this will convince you………….
Here’s to enjoying our remaining (un)lazy days of summer,