Keeping Children Active and Healthy During the Summer

Do you have a hard time keeping your child entertained during the summer?

Do you feel like your child is watching too much TV and not exercising enough?

Does your child have way too much energy?

Is your child bored of eating the same snacks every day?

If you answered yes to any of the above, then this post is perfect for you!

In this post, you will learn the benefits of physical activity for your children and some fun new outdoor activities your children can try at home during the summer. Also, I will give you some ideas on how to stay physically active at home and some healthy and easy snack recipes you can make for your children after being out in the sun all day. I know I feel hungry after a fun day in the sun! After reading this post, you will feel confident that your child is getting adequate nutrition by trying these new healthy snack recipes instead of going for a bag of chips. Also, you will feel at ease when your child releases all of their built up energy outside doing fun physical activities.

 

Fun Outdoor Activities for Your Child to Try at Home

Obstacle Course Hop Scotch: Put a twist on your regular hopscotch course and try out this new customizable obstacle course hopscotch! Choose from activities such as the long jump, ABC jumps, crab walk, bear crawl, and much more to make your hopscotch course entertaining. Below is a list, description and pictures of new twists you can add to your hopscotch course.

  1. Long jump: create a starting and end point to measure how far you can jump.
  2. Sprints: create a starting and end point to sprint the entire length.
  3. Bear crawl: create a starting and end point to bear crawl to the finish line.
  4. ABC jumps: write out each letter of the alphabet and sing each letter as you hop on one foot.
  5. Crab walk: create a starting and end point to craw walk to the finish line.
  6. Figure 8’s: create a spiral pattern to follow throughout the course. Warning! Don’t make the figure 8 pattern too long, otherwise you will get dizzy!
  7. Frog hops: create hand and feet circles to frog hop your way to the finish line.
  8. One leg jumps: create a series of numbers to jump on one foot. Alternate feet to make it interesting.
  9. Rainbow hop: draw out the shades of the rainbow and sing the colors of the rainbow while hopping on one foot to the finish line.
  10. Original hopscotch: create an original hopscotch pattern to start or end the entire obstacle course.

You can always customize the activities to your child’s liking and come up with your own activities to add to the hopscotch course to mix it up! For more summer fun ideas, check out this list of other outdoor activities your child can do to burn off some energy this summer:

  1. Play in the sprinklers (don’t forget sunscreen!)
  2. Go for a walk around the neighborhood
  3. Create a cornhole tournament
  4. Play sports such as soccer, basketball, kickball, and more
  5. Play games like freeze tag or hide and go seek with siblings

Comment below if you have any fun outdoor game ideas to play this summer!

 

Benefits of Physical Activity

It is important for your child to try to get 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Children can get 60 minutes of physical activity a day by doing fun outdoor activities with siblings or friends. It is important to be physically active because there are many health benefits to being physically active. Benefits of physical activity include:

  1. Building strong muscles and bones
  2. Reducing the risk for chronic disease
  3. Helping with weight loss or weight maintenance
  4. Increasing energy levels
  5. Helping individuals feel happier
  6. Improving skin health
  7. Improving memory and brain health
  8. Better sleep quality and relaxation
  9. Reducing pain

The bottom line is there are many health benefits to being physically active. Try to incorporate 60 minutes of physical activity to see all the benefits it has to offer. Now that the children burned off a bunch of energy with outdoor activities, it’s time to fuel them back up! Below are some healthy and easy snack ideas to try at home for your children that will fill them up and keep them satisfied! These recipes are great for adults too who need some new excitement in their snacking routine.

 

Healthy and Easy Snack Ideas for Children

Peanut Butter and Banana Quesadilla
Ingredients:
1 whole wheat tortilla
1/2 banana, sliced
2 tbsp. peanut butter or other nut/seed butter
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
Directions: Spread peanut butter on tortilla. Layer banana slices on peanut butter. Sprinkle cinnamon over bananas. Fold in half and cut into triangles. Any nut butter can be substituted for peanut butter.

Berry Smoothie
Ingredients:
2 cups fresh spinach
2 cups frozen mixed berries
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup skim or low-fat milk or milk alternative
1 tbsp. honey
Directions: Add all ingredients and blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Divide evenly into 4 glasses. Enjoy!

Frozen Yogurt Bark
Ingredients:
Any flavor of low-fat yogurt, regular or Greek
Chopped fruit of your choice, blueberries and strawberries
Toppings of your choice such as: shredded coconut, dark chocolate chips, melted peanut butter
Granola or crushed cereal, any flavor
Directions: This recipe doesn’t have measurements because you can use as much or as little as you want. Get creative! Use any toppings you like such as shredded coconut, dark chocolate chips, melted peanut butter and more. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread yogurt evenly on parchment paper. Sprinkle fruit and granola on top. Freeze for 2-4 hours or until frozen. Break into pieces. Enjoy!

Ants on a Log
Ingredients:
4 stalks of celery, rinsed and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 tbsp peanut butter or other nut/seed butter
1 handful of raisins or dried cranberries
Directions: Use a butter knife to smear peanut butter into celery stalks evenly. Dot the raisins on the peanut butter along the length of the celery to mimic ants. Enjoy!

 

Written by: Emily Arras, Iowa State Dietetic Intern

 

References used:

  1. How Much Physical Activity is Needed? (n.d.). Retrieved June 02, 2020, from https://www.choosemyplate.gov/resources/physical-activity-amount
  2. Semeco, A. (2017, February 10). The Top 10 Benefits of Regular Exercise. Retrieved June 02, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-benefits-of-exercise

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