With more than 90% of Canadian children aged 5–17 not meeting the recommendations of at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigourous physical activity daily, it’s important to keep them moving during the summer months when gym class and recess are no longer in session.
Keeping kids motivated to stay active and off screens can be challenging, but with the right activity it can be a little easier. Let your child try a variety of sports to see which one they enjoy. Research shows that if you enjoy an exercise, you’re more likely to stick with it.
Make it a family affair by scheduling a weekly activity that everyone enjoys, such as Friday night swims at the local pool, or a Saturday afternoon game of street hockey with your neighbours. You could also let your little ones take turns choosing the family’s activity each week to keep things fresh. For added motivation and a little friendly competition, sync your family’s activity trackers with daily, weekly, and monthly challenges.
Give one of these nine summer sports a try to keep your kids active and healthy over the summer months.
Not only do swimming lessons provide your child with an essential life-saving skill, they also provide a total body workout. Swimming is a great low-impact way to help your child get in some extra activity and offers an excellent way to beat the sweltering summer heat.
Swim outdoors in a pond or lake for free fun, or check with your community’s parks and recreation department for family swim times. All leisure swimming in Toronto is 100% free.
Another low-impact option, enrolling your tot in a summer baseball league allows them to unleash their inner Bautista while reaping the benefits of being part of organized sports.
Instill the value of teamwork and fitness with a friendly game of volleyball the next time you’re at the beach with your family. If the kids enjoy it you can always enroll them in a beach volleyball league or on an indoor team for the summer months.
If you want to get the whole family involved, you can also set up a net in your backyard and invite over some friends for a non-competitive tournament.
A great way to bolster your little one’s teamwork and coordination skills, basketball is ideal for children of all ages and can be played in an organized league, at the local park, community centre, or even in your own driveway.
Soccer is an excellent sport for ensuring each child feels they are making a contribution, which can help to boost self-esteem. It also gives them a high intensity interval-style workout, providing excellent cardiovascular conditioning. You can enroll your child in an organized league or simply kick a ball around with them in the yard or at the park.
Depending on your city’s recreation programs, you may be able to enroll your child in skating lessons during the summer months so that come winter, they’re ready to shred the ice with confidence. If they’d rather spend their summer enjoying the outdoors, a pair of rollerblades and some pavement works just as well.
Tennis can help your little one develop strength, coordination and increased aerobic capacity. If you’re not ready to make the commitment for lessons or court time, an inexpensive badminton net set up in the backyard is just as fun and helps get in your daily dose of vitamin D.
You can work cycling into your child’s day by encouraging them to ride to and from friends’ places, or other summer activities. Set an example yourself and ride your bike for quick errands or consider commuting on two wheels while the weather is fair. Don’t forget about proper cycling safety; a helmet, lights, and bell or horn are a must!
With no special equipment or location required, running is an excellent way for those of all ages to get in a workout. As an added bonus, sign up for a race to raise money for a charity or other cause close to your heart. If running is too high impact, going for a walk as a family after dinner will also provide many health benefits as well as offering a time to be active together.
Caitlin McCormack is a writer, editor and full-time mama to one cool little dude. When she’s not spending time at the park or working on recipes in the kitchen, you can find her lifting weights, growing her own veggies, or enjoying some precious time with her shift-working husband. Read her blog at Big City Mama or follow her on Twitter @Caitlin_Writes.
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