Fall and Spring are busy times of the year around the Hill Hangout. Our homeschool year kicks off, and so do all of our extra-curricular activities. I don’t know about you, but it is easy for me during those super busy times to focus on what “needs” to be done and neglect active play time for my kids.The importance of active play time really can’t be minimized. Kids need to get moving in order to stay healthy. One of my favorite Mr. Rogers quotes is, “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning.” Children need time to play. They need time to create and imagine and move their bodies. They need time with friends to run and kick a ball and talk about silly things. We would all do well to remember the importance of active play time.
Why is it so important to build in active play time? Take a look at this from LetsMove.gov: “Over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates in America have tripled, and today, nearly one in three children in America are overweight or obese. The numbers are even higher in African American and Hispanic communities, where nearly 40% of the children are overweight or obese. If we don’t solve this problem, one third of all children born in 2000 or later will suffer from diabetes at some point in their lives. Many others will face chronic obesity-related health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and asthma.”
Yikes! Those stats are startling!
How did we get here? Read on: “Thirty years ago, most people led lives that kept them at a healthy weight. Kids walked to and from school every day, ran around at recess, participated in gym class, and played for hours after school before dinner. Meals were home-cooked with reasonable portion sizes and there was always a vegetable on the plate. Eating fast food was rare and snacking between meals was an occasional treat.” Play is disappearing at home, in school, and in communities. 70% of moms played outside when they were kids; 31% of their kids play outside today.
I’m convinced. We gotta get our kiddos moving.
Your family may have its own favorite play activity, but ours is soccer. My girls LOVE some soccer! And I’m happy for them to play because it gets their activity level up (way up!!), teaches them to work with a team, helps with critical thinking and strategy, and gives them a terrific community of girls. Soccer certainly isn’t the only sport that gets kids moving. Maybe your kids are into basketball, volleyball, football, lacrosse, gymnastics, or cheerleading. All excellent options. Not a sports lover? Try one of these:
- Walking around the neighborhood after dinner.
- Have a family dance party.
- Play a game of freeze tag.
- Go on a nature hike.
- Find a new workout video on Youtube.
- Get the neighborhood kids together for a game of kickball.
- Go on a bike ride.
- Learn yoga.
Need a little motivation? Why not make it a family competition? Give each family member a pedometer or Fitbit and compete for the highest number of steps daily. Instead of video games or movies, give gifts that encourage physical activity like balls, jump ropes, or gymnastics mats.
And while you’re encouraging your kiddos to move, don’t forget to properly fuel them up. As my girls get more active, they really do prefer healthier meals that give them the energy to play hard. They DESPISE being sluggish from too much sugar and starch. So we eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies and try to stay away from too many fried or sugary foods. And they require lots of healthy snacks between meals to keep their energy level up. My girls love CLIF Kid® snacks, especially a CLIF Kid Zbar®. CLIF Kid® makes nutritious snacks from organic ingredients that are specially-crafted for kids’ developing taste buds and active lives. Whether on the run from soccer practice, or in between homework sessions, CLIF Kid Zbars are perfect for growing kids (and busy parents!).
It’s difficult to fit playtime in around all the other activities back-to-school brings, but by getting creative and establishing a routine, you’ll be sure your kids are healthy and thriving all year long.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.