By Noel Ugarte, MS, RD |Nutrition Educator
Every summer, as the sizzling sun sets, I still think back to my childhood when my family would go to the park to play a few friendly rounds of kickball. Afterward, we would cool down with snacks before walking home. I loved these park competitions when I was a child. They were the perfect opportunity to let loose, be myself, and have fun with adults. That’s what summer fun with kids is all about! The good news is that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) agrees that physical activity can help children grow strong bones and muscles, improve brain function, and prevent chronic conditions.
Ready to get started with a fun summer with your kids?
#1. Choose an Activity
Having summer fun with kids is always going to be active! School-aged kids and adolescents should get at least 60 minutes of moderate or harder physical activity every day. Whatever activity you pick, it should increase heart rate and breathing. Think of fun activities you can do as a family and if it’s too hot outside (hello, Arizona summer!), get active inside!
Here are some ideas to get started:
- Water balloon toss or tag
- Hiking/biking at a local location or National Park
- Tug of war
- Jump rope
- Races – one-on-one, relay, sack races (hopping)
- Dance party or dance-off competition
- Obstacle course race
#2. Fuel and Hydration
It is really important to keep your body fueled when you’re doing activities – especially in the Arizona heat! The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has easy suggestions for how much water kids should drink but remember it might be more with exercise or hotter temperatures. Be sure to drink lots of water throughout the day. NOAH’s team shares these recommendations.
|Age Range||Gender||Total Cups Water Each Day|
|4 – 8 years||Boys and Girls||7|
|9 – 13 years||Girls||9|
|14 – 18 years||Girls||10|
What kids eat is important too. Food gives us energy and important nutrients. Keep snacks available to refuel before, during, and after physical activities. Try to find non-perishable foods – things that won’t spoil or melt at high temperatures – to pack if you’re going outdoors. Some food examples include:
- Trail mix
- Peanut butter crackers
- Almonds, walnuts, peanuts
- Tuna pouch and crackers
- Chewy or crunchy granola bars (if hot, avoid chocolate chips!)
Taking perishable foods is still a good idea if you can keep them cool with ice packs or in a cooler. Some suggestions include:
- Fresh cut fruit or vegetables
- Dairy products such as cheese, yogurt, milk
- Meat, poultry, eggs
The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service recommends packing cold perishable foods between at least two cold sources (frozen gel packs, frozen water bottles, frozen juice packs) to prevent foodborne illness.
Enjoy a safe, happy, healthy, and active summer with the kids in your life!