You’d think that summertime would be a time of peak physical fitness for kids, right? The weather is great, the days are long, school is out, and there is nothing but time for just being a kid… running, jumping, playing all day long.
A study in the UK, which was presented recently at the Congress of the European College of Sport Science, tracked the fitness of over 400 children for just over a year. They found that at the start of the school year in September, kids were not able to run as far as they could at the end of the prior school term in June. They also found that body mass index (BMI) climbed between June and September (though BMI percentile would be the more appropriate measure). The decrease in fitness was particularly evident in kids from areas of lower socioeconomic status.
These findings suggest that kids may be more often spending their summer holidays being inactive, perhaps in front of the TV or video games rather than being active in the great outdoors. Active child care activities during the summer (eg summer camps) can be costly, so kids from less affluent homes may have less access to organized activities.
If you’re having trouble keeping your young ones active this summer, here are some suggestions:
- Limit screen time. Kids will find other things to do that are likely more active.
- Check out your local community facilities, parks and pools to see what is on offer.
- Enjoy the warm weather and bright evenings with a family walk or bike ride!
- Consider signing your kids up for a race (eg family fun run, or even a kids’ triathlon!) and get them engaged to train for it.