Beat the Blahs
Tools & Templates
Click here for the Comfort Food Makeover Chart
Just because the long, sunny days of summer have given way to fall's cooler temperatures doesn't mean your child's physical activity has to hit a deep freeze. Keeping your kid moving is crucial to maintaining good health, but it can be a challenge: Whereas children should be physically active for at least an hour a day, the average child gets fewer than 15 minutes of vigorous activity daily.
The good news is that your child doesn't have to be a star athlete to reap the benefits of exercise. Everyday play also fits the bill. "Kids' bodies want to be active," says Wayne Westcott, Ph.D., fitness research director at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, Mass. "Even going on a family apple-picking trip or just getting out and playing in the yard are great, fun non-competitive ways to stay active."
"Any activity, from hiking to skiing or even just playing ball with the family is great because there's no pressure to make the team," adds Westcott. "The best thing we can do is get them involved in some physical activity where they experience success."
Take it Inside
If the weather calls for indoor play, there are still plenty of options:
- Lead your kids in a game of Simon Says and have them do fitness moves such as lunges, kicks and sit-ups or set up an inside obstacle course with items like hula hoops, softballs and cones. Have them complete the obstacle course while keeping a beanbag steady on their head. "Not only does the beanbag improve balance, it also slows kids down, making games that are normally played outdoors suited for indoor play," says kids fitness expert Scott Cole, creator of the Get Fit America for Kids program. This trick works equally well for housebound versions of tag and hide-and-seek
- Pump up some tunes and have a dance contest. You can even join in: Create some steps in time to the music and have your child mimic them; increase their intricacy and pace. Or, invite your kids and a few friends or neighbors to invent dance routines, and offer a prize for the most original and energetic.
- Plan family events that sneak in exercise. Schedule time at an indoor tennis court, play Ping-Pong or check out park district offerings. Weather forecast looking up? Venture outside to an apple orchard and pick fruit, schedule a session at a batting cage or even hit the zoo-a great physical activity when you consider all the walking. Bonus: Besides keeping your bodies healthy, you'll be strengthening your family bond.