kids playing around in the grass

Child Health, News | 24 days ago

Fun in the Sun: Expert Tips to Keep Kids Active and Healthy all Summer Long

Summer brings a world of possibilities for children—longer days, no school and endless opportunities for play. But it also comes with the challenge of keeping kids active and engaged while balancing screen time and relaxation. The team at Atrium Health Levine Children’s is here to share expert tips to encourage your child to move, explore and thrive throughout this sunny season.

Summer is in full swing, which brings a world of possibilities for children—longer days, no school and endless opportunities for play. But for many parents, summer also comes with the challenge of keeping kids active and engaged while balancing screen time and relaxation.

Staying active during the summer is essential for children’s physical and mental health. We’ve gathered some advice from experts at Atrium Health Levine Children’s on how to keep kids moving all summer long. Let's dive in!

Why movement matters

The longer, less structured days of summer can also mean an increase in screen time and the temptation to lounge around the house. But it's crucial to encourage children to stay active. Experts at Levine Children’s say physical play isn’t just fun; it’s essential for healthy growth in several ways:

  • Physical development: Regular exercise builds coordination, muscle strength, and bone health.
  • Mental well-being: Active kids are happier and less prone to anxiety or depression.
  • Healthy hearts: Staying active reduces the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

While it’s important for parents to help kids make physical activity a daily habit, it doesn’t have to be for hours at a time—short bursts count, too!

Play it safe in the sun

You can encourage your child to enjoy the great outdoors, even when it’s hot and sunny, without putting their well-being at risk. Experts at Levine Children’s suggest taking precautions to help kids play outside safely.

  • Hydration is essential. Encourage your child to drink water frequently and avoid sugary drinks, which can lead to dehydration.
  • Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 and reapply it every two hours (or more often if swimming or sweating) to protect children's skin from harmful UV rays.
  • Schedule outdoor activities during the cooler parts of the day, like early morning or late afternoon, and take frequent breaks in the shade to help prevent heat exhaustion and keep kids safe and comfortable.

Don’t forget about water safety

As you and your child embark on summer adventures, it's crucial to prioritize water safety.

  • Always have your child wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device, such as a life jacket, whenever they are near bodies of water. ‘
  • Even if they're just playing by the water's edge, ensure constant adult supervision and keep them within arm's reach.
  • Remember to practice water safety in everyday scenarios, such as emptying buckets and securing toilet seats.
  • If you have a pool, install secure fencing around its perimeter to prevent accidents.

Outdoor adventures

Outdoor play is a fantastic way to keep children active and entertained throughout the summer. Water play is a great multitasker: it helps kids stay cool while getting some energy out. Nothing beats the heat like a sprinkler in the backyard, a visit to a local splash pad or a fun water balloon fight.

Another engaging activity is a nature scavenger hunt. Turning a walk in the park into an adventure can be exciting for kids. Parents can create a list of items for their children to find, such as a pinecone, feather or specific type of leaf. This not only makes the walk more interesting but also helps children be more present in their surroundings.

Bike riding is another way for kids to get exercise while having fun. It's a versatile activity that can be done solo or as a family. Riding as a family can also be a great bonding experience and a way to explore new places together. Just be sure children wear helmets and protective gear to stay safe.

Indoor options

When it’s too hot to play outside, get creative with some indoor options that will keep kids moving. Turn on your favorite playlist and have a dance party. Grab some pillows and blankets and see who can make the biggest fort. Or embrace childhood classics like “Simon says” or “floor is lava” to burn off energy and enjoy some quality time together.

Arts and crafts, while not as physically active, are a good way to keep kids away from screens. Activities like painting, drawing or building with clay stimulate creativity and fine motor skills, providing a balanced mix of mental and physical engagement.

However your child chooses to stay active this summer, you can make memories together and cheer them on along the way. Your encouragement and support will help them develop healthy habits that will last a lifetime.

Have more questions about helping your child thrive? We’re here to help. Find a pediatrician near you.