Creative ways to move with your kids
Kitty Finklea, RD, AFAA-CPT
Do you find it hard to get your kid off the sofa and away from screens? You’re not alone – research indicates 8 to 12-year-olds spend up to 4-6 hours a day in front of screens and teenagers spend up to 9 hours. As a result, our children tend to be less active, more stressed, depressed, and at increased risk for health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and hypertension.
One way to help offset your child’s screen time is by becoming more active. Regular physical activity helps children and adolescents recharge their energy and focus, elevate mood, build bones and muscle, improve sleep patterns and overall health and vitality. Plus, our bodies are made to move, and movement can be fun!
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 60 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous activity. This includes participating in a sport or active hobby, playing, walking or running, jumping, swimming, dancing, or any activity that gets the heart pumping. The activity doesn’t have to occur at once, but a good rule of thumb is to be active for at least 10 minutes at a time.
“ Less than 25% of children ages 6-17 meet this goal according to the CDC. Parents are the best role models and making movement a family affair means everyone is active and reaping the benefits,” explains Dr. Camille Montes-Ramos, pediatrician at HopeHealth Pediatrics in Florence. “I encourage parents to limit screen time to two hours a day or less. Kids love structure and assigning active chores such as helping with feeding animals, watering plants, meal prep, and clean up keeps them moving more on a daily basis. Plan time on most days to be active together whether it’s a walk or a dance party. Add in family activities on weekends and holidays, and during the school year find activities they enjoy such as sports or dance.”
Here are some creative ideas to get everybody in the family moving more:
Have games available such as frisbee, croquet, badminton, hacky sacks, or Nerf equipment. Keep equipment and supplies handy like a trampoline, swing set, chalk for hopscotch and art, balloons, ping pong balls, jump ropes, hula hoops, different types of balls, and more. Try out these ideas for family games:
· Nerf challenge – Have Nerf equipment such as guns and darts for each family member for archery or capture the flag. Decide on teams and rules before you start! Use paper cups for each team base or for archery targets.
· Hide and glow (sweat) – Write out 15-20 different exercises (pushups, jumping jacks, walking/running in place, crab walk, etc.) with repetitions or time included and place
each in a plastic egg to hide. When a child finds an egg, the entire family does the exercise listed together.
· Family boot camp – Each family member writes out 5 favorite exercises such as calisthenics, martial arts, or dance moves. Then the family goes on a walk or run and incorporates 60 seconds of moves at certain points during the walk.
· Other ideas – Develop an obstacle course in the yard for a timed competition, have an egg relay, take the twister game outside, or have a tug of war competition. Remember competition is all about fun, not winning or losing.
Find active pastimes you can enjoy with your children. Walk while your child rides a bike, swim together, play tennis, or head to the batting cage or indoor trampoline park. If stuck inside, utilize free dance channels for kids on Youtube or find an active program such as Wii Fit.
Explore active hobbies your child can participate in such as horseback riding, gardening, dancing, and sports including basketball, soccer, track, cheer, gymnastics, and more.
Adventures and Education
Plan adventures and take the kids to a lake, beach, the mountains, or a state park. Make sure to include a few educational activities to keep the brain engaged in learning.
· Become an Ultimate Outsider by visiting all the 47 of the South Carolina State Parks! For more information visit southcarolinaparks.com/ultimate-outsider.
· Visit Columbia. Our capital city has tons of activities including Riverbanks Zoo, EdVenture Children’s Museum, SC State Museum, and Saluda Shoals Park on the river for a kayak or cool off at the splash pad. Saturday mornings are a great time to visit the Soda City Market on Main Street. There is also an Edventure and Water Park in Hartsville.
· Explore Charleston. Tour downtown by foot or carriage ride, take a wildlife cruise, go to the Charleston Aquarium or visit a pirate ship. Make sure to check out the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum, and the Fort Sumter Monument. Don’t miss the Birds of Prey Sanctuary in Awendaw, SC, for a walking tour and flight demonstrations. Visit the Angel Oak (the oldest oak tree in SC) on John’s Island.
Make it a family goal that everyone participates in chores such as laundry, cooking, cleaning, organizing, washing cars, and working in the yard. Sharing tasks with your children makes it more fun and also helps them learn responsibility.
Dr. Montes-Ramos agrees in the value of incorporating movement into every day. She continues, “When kids learn to move more as part of daily life, they’ll improve overall health and feel better, even if they don’t always act like it! And doing things together builds stronger family connections which is extremely important for our children’s well-being.“