Keeping children fit through the summer

By: Joseph Dames Email
By: Joseph Dames Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- Just eight more school days until summertime, and while the break from school can be a time for play, it's also a time when kids are at risk to put on a few extra pounds.

Experts say putting down the books for TV and trading in gym class for video games can add up to weight gain for children.

When the final school bell rings for the year, sometimes bad habits form as more free time opens up. Health experts caution that's when children pick up those bad habits that can negatively impact their health.

It's the best part of the summer: spending time outdoors.

"We like to be active; we spend a lot of time in our yard in the summer," mother Jessica Pearson said.

But if your children aren't active daily, they may just be sitting around. Experts say having an active body can keep your mind sharp.

"With such a long break between the school year and summer, if kids are more active and eating healthier, it will help them retain that knowledge from the school year better and gives them an advantage when the new year starts," Colorado Mesa University asst. kinesiology professor Dr. Elizabeth Sharp said.

Health experts say keeping those carrots and other healthy snacks around will help eliminate junk food habits.

Local mom Laura Ousley says it's about setting an example during all parts of the year.

"We try to eat healthy pretty much all year round so it doesn't change to terribly much in the summer," she said.

Wellness officials say parents are advised to come up with a summer plan so their kids don't derail too far off the tracks, and those are tips that mother Pearson takes.

“Really limiting the amount of screen time the children have, we try to participate in community activities such as soccer and swimming over the summer just to keep them fit," she said.

If the weather doesn't cooperate for the kids to be outdoors and they spend extended time watching TV, there are still little exercises that can help combat rainy or too hot days.

“Any way that you can incorporate movement during the day is good, especially since they don't have the schedule that they normally do during the school day,” Sharp said. “Even simple things like if they kids are watching movies or TV during the day, have them run during commercials."

Health experts want to remind parents there are plenty of community opportunities for parents to get their children involved in as well. There are many summer camps, free swim nights at the pool and parents can enroll children in these activities to help add a little structure and routine for the child.

According to a recent study, kids gained three times as much weight in the summer after kindergarten than during the school year. First graders gained twice as much weight in the summer versus the school year.

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