July 15, 2004
It’s the dog days of summer and your kids are glued to the TV. You try to kick them outside, but they moan, "It’s too hot!" And they’ve got a point.
The pool is always an option, but that can get old. So what do you do with a bunch of couch potatoes when the temperature hits 110 degrees?
The key, experts say, is parental involvement and planning. During summer, Arizona kids generally are at the mercy of their parents to get things moving.
But even after arranging for sports camps and team practices, and escaping to air-conditioned venues, like a climbing wall or a bowling alley, there are still those long, lazy afternoons when you don’t feel like driving anywhere and you don’t want to spend money.
Parents might be surprised to see how enthusiastically their children embrace an in-home exercise routine or a dance competition that they choreograph themselves.
"Kids seem to like things if mom or dad do it with them," said Chuck Corbin, professor emeritus of exercise and wellness at Arizona State University East. "As long as you’re a part of it, that’s what makes them want to do it."
Corbin, an exercise pioneer who literally wrote the book on physical education, said families can have fun devising their own version of his "jump-nastics," putting arm movements and foot movements together to the beat of their favorite music.
Marching, hopping, dancing — even taking the kids along to the grocery store will help. It doesn’t matter what you do, Corbin said, as long as you’re moving.
The Freestone Recreation Center, 111 E. Guadalupe Road, Gilbert, is bustling in the summer with daylong kids camps, an indoor track, 42-foot climbing wall and children’s classes in aerobics, dance, pom and cheer, racquetball and tae kwon do.
"We get a lot of families," said recreation programmer Mike Leppert. "Mom and dad go to the fitness center while the kids are on the climbing wall."
Whether exercising separately or together, Corbin said parents can improve their own health by keeping their children active.
"Parents are more at risk than their kids," Corbin said, noting that an estimated 60 percent of adults are overweight compared with 13 percent of children. "What kids can give their parents is the gift of exercise."
Get up and go
Regular physical activity helps children grow strong and healthy, develops motor skills and coordination, controls weight, improves self-confidence and reduces anxiety and depression. It’s also lots of fun, especially when the family does it together. You can help your children by scheduling time for exercise and showing them how much you enjoy it. Kids should be active for at least an hour every day. Here are some ideas for hot-weather exercise:
• Swimming — Supervise your children every second they’re around water.
• Dancing — Turn off the TV and turn on some music. Choreograph your own dance and exercise routines.
• Animal guessing game — Take turns doing a crab walk, frog jump, duck waddle, etc.
• Ice skating or indoor roller skating.
• Walking or bike riding before it gets hot or as the sun is setting.
• Running in the sprinkler.
• Washing the car.
• Mall walking.
• Get the kids to help with household chores like sweeping, vacuuming and yard work.