As summer sunlight begins to dwindle and fall approaches, kids can easily and mindlessly fall into the sing-songy “I’m bored” tune. They charged off the school bus back in June to conquer camp, soak up pool time and max out on family vacations. Their boundless energy is now waning as we enter the dog days of August. It’s time to get creative with family fitness while cementing those final, precious summer memories.
Parents should continue setting positive examples and remain active with their kids whenever possible. Swim laps. Maintain your running schedule. Get to the gym. Your participation in these activities reinforces a parent’s unyielding commitment to good health. Now find ways to bring the whole family into the fit fun.
Take the whole family out for swim lessons. Who couldn’t use a quick brush up on different strokes? Blast the blues with family dancing shoes. Whether it’s “Just Dance,” an outdoor concert or your family favorites from an IPod, dancing is a fun activity for everyone in the family.
Rock climbing, laser tag, or even the cool comfort of an air-conditioned bowling alley offer parents a chance to model healthy behaviors and engage in friendly competition.
August is an ideal time to set fitness goals for the fall and winter seasons. Local YMCA branches and community rec centers offer introductory and advanced level indoor sports programs for all age levels. Do the kids intend to participate in a sport at school? Is there an individual goal like running a specific distance event? Does a child wish to take his or her talents to a new sport?
Enjoy the good weather. Sample the different sports, and then plan the approach for the upcoming season. For example, the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington offers T-ball, blastball and baseball in progressive programs that emphasize proper technique while having a memorable, fun and rewarding experience.
Then, build on the momentum you generate by planning fall activities. As soon as the doors open, many area schools will be planning for the one-mile MCM Kids Run hosted by the Marine Corps Marathon on Oct. 24 in Arlington, VA. Open to children ages 5 to 12, the Kids Run welcomes many schools who use this event as a way to establish a running program and generate motivation among young and often reluctant runners.
Michael B. Sidebotham, Principal of Stafford County’s Grafton Village Elementary School, sees student running as a universal sport. “We started a running club to get our students prepared for fall events,” explained Sidebotham. “We feel in this day and age when there are many things vying for students’ attention, it is important to emphasize health and fitness. Running clubs have been one way we’ve done that.”
Though running provides excellent health benefits and immediate rewards (who doesn’t love being presented a medal?), it is just one of many fall physical activities. Others, including football and indoor swimming, offer cardiovascular benefits similar to running. By enrolling their kids in these activities during elementary years, parents can help to reinforce the team concept at home and create a lasting enthusiasm for health and fitness. While the end of summer blues could drive many to the sofa, a firm commitment to health and wellness can boost family energy levels.
Sandra Osborn-Peters is the MCM community relations coordinator. Parents can register their children for the MCM Kids Run via the MCM website:www.marinemarathon.com/MCM_Weekend/MCM_Kids_Run.html. Schools can register student groups by contacting [email protected].
Articles in the Healthy Kids Series are presented by the Marine Corps Marathon Kids Run. No federal or Marine Corps endorsement implied.