Spring break is right around the corner. Many parents are looking for creative ways to keep their kids off the couch and active. Mallory Carteaux, an exercise physiologist with the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital Fit4Allkids program, joins us with some ideas to help parents.
How can I keep my kids active during spring break?
Kids and teens need at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day, and what a better time to get these habits in place than during spring break when they don’t have to go to school? It can be hard to break the cycle of Netflix, YouTube, video games and social media scrolling, so here are some family-friendly activities that you and your kids can do to get moving. Lots of parks in our area have free outdoor fitness zones or fitness trails, as well as the standard playground. Using these can be a fun way to get in cardiovascular as well as muscular exercise. Mixing in bouts of walking or jogging with some repetitions on the fitness zone equipment can be a great circuit workout for kids and parents alike. Going for a walk or bike ride after dinner can get the whole family involved in fitness. Other great ideas to boost fitness include rollerblading, skateboarding, jump-roping, leap frog, hula hooping, playing catch with a baseball or football, basketball, and playing Frisbee or Spikeball in the grass. Take advantage of the mild spring weather by taking your fitness outside to the park or the beach. Running and playing in the sand can add an extra level of difficulty.
Are there any indoor activities they can do?
Absolutely! While it’s nice to get out of the house, sometimes time or weather can hinder that. Doing yoga in the living room can bring flexibility and relaxation to the household. There are also infinite fun workout ideas and games on Pinterest that use easy-to-find materials from around the house like a deck of cards, popsicle sticks, Jenga, or no equipment at all like challenges that include squats, push-ups, jumping jacks, planks, running in place, mountain climbers and core exercises.
Any suggestions for kids or teens who won’t put down their devices?
Sometimes getting kids and teens off their electronic devices can seem like a workout in itself! But we can also embrace technology to improve health and fitness. YouTube has a ton of workout videos for everything from yoga to Zumba, and aerobics to strength training that can be suitable for all ages and ability levels. There are also the active video games and consoles, like the Wii, Xbox Kinect and PlayStation Move that can be just as effective as a gym workout!
You also can’t forget about apps that provide encouragement and additional ideas to increase movement (with or without a fitness tracker) like FitBit, Garmin, Couch to 5K, Pocket Yoga, Nike Training Club, Zombies Run and Pokemon Go.
There are also app and device timers that you can use if you want to encourage your kids to get off the device and get outside. The goal is to get kids and teens moving for at least 60 minutes per day, but it’s also important to know that this time does not need to be all at once to be effective. Breaking fitness into smaller 10-15 minute bouts can make it more accessible and easier to accomplish.
On Call for All Kids is a weekly series featuring Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital medical
experts. Visit HopkinsAllChildrens.org/Newsroom each Monday for the latest report.