Husband and wife teaching child to ride bike

Keeping Kids Active This Summer

Summer is in full swing all across North Texas, ushering in backyard barbecues, afternoons at the pool and every kind of camp under the sun. While it might be tempting for kids (and their parents) to stay indoors and soak up as much A/C as possible, we’re encouraging families to get outside and get active!

We asked Rebecca Slemmons, fitness manager at Texas Health Willow Park, how families can get off the couch and stay active together during the summer break.

Q: How can parents encourage their kids to stay active during the summer?

A: If parents are active, their kids will be active! Kids are mostly dependent on the parents and their ability/willingness to actively engage them in age-appropriate programs, so we try to offer summer programming that works for all family members. If programs are available for the whole family, parents are more likely to participate with their kids.

At Willow Park, we offer “Summer at the Park,” which is our youth and teen program for kids ages 5-18 and offers a variety of complimentary and fee-based fitness activities over the summer. Family Fitness hours and Family Friendly Group Exercise classes are part of the membership at no additional cost.

Parents and their children can participate in specially selected group exercise classes or work out on the fitness floor together. Our fee-based options include Kid’s Yoga, Kid’s Zumba and KidFit classes, as well as athletic conditioning courses for middle school and high school athletes. Parents can work out while their kids work out as well!

Q: Do you have tips for limiting screen time?

A: We believe there is a balance between daily activities and screen/down time. Kids are so busy and over-scheduled these days that downtime should be a necessity, not a negative. While engaging kids in a variety of stimulating, healthy activities will help to limit screen time, some screen/downtime should be allowed every day.

As for tips on how to limit screen time, that should be customized for each child and their needs. If you create and nurture an atmosphere of health for a lifetime and allow your kids to participate in activities and/or classes that interest them, having to limit screen time should not be an issue.

Q: What are some activities that can help kids stay cool during the North Texas summer heat?

A: Obviously, swimming is the number one way to beat the heat! There are numerous YMCAs, city recreation centers, country clubs and camps that offer free swim, lap swim and swim teams, as well as swim lessons. Joining a local swim team can be a great way to stay in shape, meet new friends and stay cool during the summer.

There are also several (too many to list!) indoor camps and activities in the DFW area. You can choose from drama/theater camps (Kids Who Care—Fort Worth), dance camps, sports camps (basketball, indoor soccer), LEGO® camps, STEM-based programs and art programs (Van Grow—Fort Worth), as well as summer activities at many of the local museums in the DFW area.

Q: Why is staying active over the summer important for student-athletes and non-athletes alike?

A: Kids should be encouraged to be healthy for a lifetime, not just for sports. Fitness and staying active should never be a seasonal option, but something that is instilled at an early age. Kids should know that being active is something they should do most days of the week for life!

For athletes, the summer off-season can be a time to explore new fitness options, or at a minimum, a time to maintain their baseline fitness level. Your body needs a break from the monotony of sport-specific training, but it would not be reasonable to take the whole summer off and be expected to return to the same level of fitness and intensity once the fall comes around.

Q: If kids aren’t necessarily athletically inclined, do you have any tips for them to stay active?

A: You don’t have to be athletically inclined to stay fit and active. Activities like gardening, cooking, theater, dance and music all help to stimulate the brain and get kids out of the house (or away from the screen) and help to keep them active. It’s not just about being physically fit. Fitness should be overall health for the body, mind and spirit.

Wondering where your family’s health and well-being stands? Visit TexasHealth.org/Well-Being for tips on achieving and maintaining whole body health. To find the closest fitness center near you, check here or call 1-877-THR-WELL (1-877-847-9355).

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