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Published on September 17, 2013

Finding Balance: Keeping Kids Active During the School Year

Dean Family physician Dr. Jeanine Kies shares her tips for keeping kids active even after the school year starts

School is back in session and kids are trading in running shoes and bikes for notebooks and book bags. But, the start of a new school year and the onset of colder weather doesn’t mean your family’s active routine has to come to an end. It means you can be more creative in finding new family-friendly activities to try at home and on the go.

A few key things to keep in mind when it comes to kids and exercise: kids learn by doing and they learn by watching. If you want exercise to become an important part of your child’s life, remember to set a good example by participating in exercises you enjoy. Some kids will need less intense activities while others will be very active in school-sponsored sports. Both groups can benefit from staying active at home. Young athletes can improve their performance through cross-training and lower intensity activities they do with you and their siblings.

Here are some suggestions that can keep your kids (and you!) up and moving throughout the year:

  • Play catch in the yard or basement
  • Go for a family walk, run or bike ride
  • Have a family Frisbee or kickball game
  • Enjoy a family hacky sack tournament
  • Do a family yoga session with DVDs from the library, an online guide from a trusted source like Do Yoga With Me or even using Wii, Xbox or Playstation games
  • Organize a family “triathlon” for a weekend event – pick three activities to do together and then celebrate your success with a fun treat everyone enjoys

Different activities are great for different ages. If you have a younger child who gets bored during an older sibling’s sporting event, try incorporating an active game like tag or duck, duck goose into the time spent waiting on the sidelines. Younger kids may also enjoy using yoga flash cards that use animal poses and can easily be brought along in a diaper bag, purse or book bag.

For older children, being cool is key. Suggest walking or riding bikes with friends to a movie or sporting event instead of driving. Offer to host a Friday or Saturday night dance party complete with active games like Dance Central or Just Dance for “dance off” opportunities.

The bottom line is staying active is a family event. Participate in exercise activities with your kids, make the activities fun and exciting for everyone and staying fit will become a part of your family lifestyle.

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