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Giving Your Kids a Healthy Summer

By: Dr. Julian Alfaro, physician for Molina Healthcare of Ohio


Itís summertime. How are you going to get your kids off the couch? Children spend an average of 7.5 hours a day using entertainment media, such as TV, computers, video games, cell phones and movies Ė itís almost impossible to get them to do anything else! As a parent, you have the ability to influence and help your kids get off the computer and start getting active.


There are many fun and easy ways to make your kids healthy and active. Here are some tips and suggestions to make this summer the healthiest yet:


  1. Incorporate physical activity into the daily routine.  Because they are out of school, your kids donít have physical education classes. They need at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day, but they donít have to do it all at once. Try a nightly walk after dinner or taking a family bike ride around your neighborhood.

  2. Have healthy food in the house.  Instead of keeping salty, fatty, high-calorie snacks in the house like chips, ice cream and frozen pizza, stock up with fruits and snack-ready vegetables. Try mini carrots, apple slices or unsweetened dried fruit for a delicious and healthy treat!

  3. Limit screen time. Watching too much TV, sitting in front of a computer for too long or playing a video game for hours is bad for your kidsí health and eyesight. Try taking the TVs out of their bedrooms and making the TV or computer off-limits for certain days or hours. Create a new house rule: No sitting still during commercials! Challenge your kids to see who can do the most jumping jacks, sit-ups or crunches during the commercial break.

  4. Make the indoors active too! The summer is hot and can stop you and your kids from being active. When that heat wave hits, make the indoors a fun place to work out. Try playing a game of freeze dance or musical chairs, or help your kids create a fun dance routine to their favorite song. And if your kids arenít into dancing, blow up some balloons and toss them around Ė try not\to hit the ground!

  5. Be a good role model. Itís one thing to tell your kids to be healthy, but itís another to be healthy yourself. Donít serve them veggies while you eat pizza; follow the same guidelines! Youíll be encouraging your kids to continue the plan and improve your health at the same time.


To keep your kids healthy, make sure they get the right amount of sleep each night. Preschoolers who sleep less have a tendency to weigh more by 7. Three-to 5-year-old children need 11 hours of sleep or more each day, kids from 5 to 10 need 10 hours of sleep or more a day and children over 10 need at least nine hours per day.


Swimming burns more calories per hour than almost any other activity and has been shown to improve cardiovascular health and lead to greater strength and flexibility. If your kids donít know how to swim, sign them up for classes at a local pool or YMCA.



Did you know that 24.2 percent of Mexican-American children ages 6 to 17 are overweight? And the United States Department of Agriculture reported that only half of Hispanics had diets that met minimum requirements.


Donít let your children become a statistic and give them the healthiest summer your family has ever experienced!


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Copyright © 1989 to 2011 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 06/28/11 13:16:35 -0700.





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