Healthy kids all summer

Summertime is challenging for many parents who struggle to keep their kids active during the vacation. Here are a few tips to keep your kids happy and healthy.

A group of young boys carrying surfboards walking on the beach

Free from homework and quizzes, kids have plenty of time to play and relax their minds during summer vacation. Nonetheless, this time of the year is challenging for many parents who experience some sort of struggle to keep their kids both active and healthy during the vacation. Whether this is due in part to a parent’s busy work schedule or a child’s obsession with his or her devices, there are so many excuses for why kids aren’t active all summer long.


A recent study among children 6 to 9 years of age showed that physical activity dropped by 53% during the summer months. Moreover, time spent in sedentary activities (e.g. screen time) increases. School days typically involve regular physical activity sessions (e.g. recess, PE class) and limited screen time, which may have a protective effect on children’s health behaviors. The structured days hypothesis suggests that disruptions in such routines are responsible for lower physical activity levels over the summer.


Declines in physical activity over the summer can have adverse effects on children’s health like weight gain. Numerous studies have shown that body mass index increases more in the summer than in other seasons. Excess weight gain can lead to obesity and poorer metabolic, cardiovascular, respiratory, and mental health for children. It’s clear that physical activity and proper nutrition in the summer months is critical for children’s health.

Tips for parents to keep kids active during summer

Tip 1: During the school year, children have to get up and get going, but this may not be the case during the summer. Set up a routine that gets them moving. This may involve going to summer camp, taking walks, going to swim lessons, or just having a standing playdate with friends. Also going to bed at a similar time during the summer as during the school year will help your child to be rested and active the next day.


Tip 2: Heat, humidity, and inclement weather are common barriers to outdoor physical activity. Take advantage of mornings before it really heats up. Water activities can help beat the heat, but also have indoor physical activity options ready to go, like online yoga and PE videos geared towards kids. Have your kids help you in the garden before the sun gets too high, then cool off with the hose. On bad weather days, check out local climbing gyms, indoor playgrounds or bowling alleys.


Tip 3: If given the choice, many kids will pick screen time over going outside to play. However, if screen time is limited, they may find something more active to do. One idea is to set your devices to not be accessible during school hours (even during summer) and only allow a pre-specified number of hours of screen time. Plan to watch shows and do other screen-related activities ahead of time, and don’t keep the TV on as background noise. If video games are your child’s thing, provide them with other options like board games, card games or graphic novels.


Tip 4: Kids are more likely to be active when other kids are around. Scheduling playdates, getting involved in a local kids group like scouts or a sports team are great ways to help kids maintain social relationships and encourage active play during summer.


Tip 5: Find some fun, easy and healthy recipes for your kids to help you cook for lunch or dinner. They may be more interested in eating a healthy meal if they had a hand in making it. Try to avoid too much snacking in front of the screen, especially at night.


Tip 6: Go on a hike or trail ride on your bikes at a local park or nature reserve. Challenge your kids to identify animals and plants along the way.

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