With sports starting to re-open this month, school coming to an end and temperatures rising, there are numerous reasons for kids to be excited about the coming weeks.
Dr. Michael Stuart, co-director of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center, stresses how important it is for kids take advantage of summer to participate in healthy outdoor activities and continue building an active lifestyle.
“Seventy percent of our kids do not get the physical activity they need for health and fitness, and over a third of our kids are either overweight or obese,” says Stuart, who also serves as USA Hockey’s chief medical officer. “Staying inside can promote more couch-potato activities. Natural Vitamin D from sunlight is a good thing also.”
Stuart recommends at least 60 minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity each day. Each week should include muscle-strengthening activities, such as playing on the monkey bars, pushups, pull-ups, tug of war or weight training, and bone strengthening or “impact exercise,” which include most sports, along with running, hiking and jump rope.
But in the end, it’s all about getting the kids outside and active, no matter what they choose to do.
“Kids don’t have to play a specific sport to gain fitness,” says Stuart. “Any activity is good and contributes to better health. This can include playing games or other informal play, as long as they are moving and active.”
Sometimes all kids need is an exciting idea or opportunity. Provide them the necessary equipment, tools, transportation, and, if necessary, instructions. Then, sit back and watch as they learn new skills, build athleticism and confidence.
Here are five types of sports/activities kids could try this summer while social distancing.
Water Sports – This is often the first one on most Minnesotans mind right now and rightfully so. Water sports such as paddle boarding, kayaking, wakeboarding, water skiing and swimming provide a refreshing opportunity to be active while soaking in the unique joys of Minnesota summers. Plus, being active in the water presents kids with unique challenges in terms of body control, balance and coordination.
Racquet Sports – Not only do many racquet sports like tennis or pickleball provide an opportunity for competition while maintaining a safe distance, they place a premium on agility and hand-eye coordination similar to hockey. If equipment or court access is a challenge, try playing with a ball against a concrete wall and using your hand as the racquet.
Adventure Sports – Want to foster creativity and independence? What about allowing kids to learn to assess and manage risks? Activities such as rollerblading, skateboarding, mountain biking, and climbing supply environments where self-discovery and peer-guided learning reign. While there can be an increased risk of injury, most of these sports have protective equipment available and introduce kids to a different type of mental and physical skills than they typically experience in mainstream sports.
Obstacle Courses – Obstacle courses keep kids entertained and active while building movement skills that are key to athleticism. Set up a course in your yard using objects that force kids to weave, jump, duck, carry or throw items and balance. Then, add or subtract components such as timing them or playing catch while running through the course to adjust the level of difficulty and keep them engaged. Here’s a fun example:
This little guy told me the obstacle course was too easy so we added some strongman work with sandbag carry. Little bit of fun with some fitness, strength and coordination work.— Jeremy Frisch (@JeremyFrisch) May 15, 2020
Good old move the mountain drill @kevinleewentz #LTAD pic.twitter.com/UqYbaV1zRn
Challenges – If you need a hockey fix, try guiding your kids to create challenges at home that they can use to compete against themselves, teammates or friends. Whether it’s testing puck skills or other parts of kids’ athleticism, challenges can transform a repetitive task into a daily mission. Not sure how to get started? Watch this example from a USA Hockey webinar.
Whatever activities your children participate in, the main goal is for them to have fun, enjoy the outdoors with friends and stay physically active.
“Different activities train different skills, like balance, coordination, strength, endurance and timing,” says Stuart. “These different activities can improve the skills needed for overall hockey ability. In addition, playing other sports is fun!”