Being physically active and eating healthy is important for growing children. While summer is a time of activity, like swimming, biking, running, it’s still important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and diet in order maintain healthy growth and development. What steps should you take, as a parent, to ensure that your child is meeting the proper physical activity and nutritional needs over the summer?
Exercise Guidelines For Children
- Children between one and four should spend 180 minutes each day being active. Whether walking, playing outside, swimming or dancing.
- By the age of five, children should have at least 60 minutes per day of energetic activity, like biking, running, hopping or skipping.
- For children over five, included in the 60 minutes per day should be bone strengthening activity, muscle building activity and aerobic activity (each at least 3 times per week)
- Guidelines state that children under 5 should have no more than one hour each day in front of a screen, whether it’s a TV screen, computer screen or iPad screen.
Maintaining a Healthy Diet
While exercising and being active are critical to good health, following a healthy diet is vital as well. Take advantage of abundant fresh, seasonal produce this summer when it’s at its freshest and most nutritious. There are great summer recipes that make it easy to fill your diet with low-calorie, antioxidant-rich fruits, vegetables and herbs. Ripe peaches boast beta carotene, blueberries are rich in vitamin C and fresh-picked corn is full of folate. If you can’t get fresh produce from your garden you can always find some at your local farmers’ market.
The table below from Canada’s Food Guide outlines the number of servings from each of the four food groups based on age and gender. Remember that a portion is usually the size of your palm or between ½ and 1 cup of liquid.
When trying to ensure that your child is active and eating healthy, remember that parents are key players when it comes to fostering a healthy lifestyle and awareness of the importance of being active and eating properly. Parents need to lead by example and eat healthy and engage in fun physical activity together as a family. By staying healthy over the summer, your child will be ready to take on the world in the fall.