HEALTHY SUMMER ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS AND FAMILIES

June 10, 2019

HEALTHY SUMMER ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS AND FAMILIES

ThedaCare Provider has Creative Ideas to Get Moving 

NEW LONDON, Wis. – We hear a lot about encouraging young people to be physically active.  When the modern-day default might be hours spent on the couch with a phone or tablet, parents and other caring adults can encourage old-school games or new active family traditions that get young people up, out and moving around their homes, yards and communities.

Dr. Bryan Hendrickson, a family physician at ThedaCare Physicians-New London, explains that communities should be aware of the growing problem of childhood obesity.

“In Wisconsin, childhood obesity rates hover around 14 percent, and 32 percent of adults are obese,” he said. “Combatting obesity is vital to helping prevent Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis and obesity-related cancers that significantly hurt our quality of life.”

Dr. Hendrickson has some fun and interesting ideas to consider for your family’s active summertime lifestyle:

Fuel up and burn energy.

Securely zip-tie empty gallon milk jugs to the back of your kids’ bikes and then poke two or three holes in the bottom of the jugs. One friend runs the “gas station” and fills up the “tanks” with hose water, then those on bikes ride around draining their gas tanks until they need to stop at the station for a fill-up. Inevitably, kids end up dripping wet and happily tired from miles on their bikes. (You can regulate the flow of water from the “tanks” with the number of holes you punch in the milk jugs.)

Let nature nurture you.

I had a very impactful scout meeting as a young child when our leader took us on a field trip to a city park. We went for a nature hike and at the end she encouraged us each to find a place to sit in the woods within a relatively small area. We sat quietly and alone and she called us back together in just five minutes. Our task was to observe as much as we could, from bird songs to the wind, leaves, and mud puddles. I was amazed at how much I heard and how soothing it was to have such a “simple” assignment. Everyone in our group loved the exercise and talked about it through our school years. It was our first experience with mindfulness.

Cook up a new tradition with regular trips to the farm market with your family.

Try to walk or bike there if you can. Make it lots more fun by allotting a certain amount of money (around $3) to each child to buy his or her own choice of fresh fruit or vegetables. That night, cut and chop your collection of fresh food into a beautiful salad or grill them on skewers. The entire day will be woven together by healthy activity, family time and nutritious food.

Grow something!

My patients are always amazed when I remind them that pulling weeds or planting flowers burns 200-400 calories per hour, and that goes up if you are doing heavy landscaping or pushing a lawn mower. Young people not only love to garden alongside their parents and grandparents, they often love their own little plot demarcated by a row of small stones or a simple fence. They take responsibility for choosing seeds, weeding and watering. The food or flowers they grow will be a badge of pride in their planting skills and teach them valuable lessons about food production and project management.

Take steps for healthy screen time.

Institute a rule that 30 minutes on a phone or tablet requires a down payment of at least 1,000 steps. Make a point of walking around your neighborhood with your kids (or have them go alone if they are old enough) and greeting your neighbors. After all, sedentary lifestyle often breeds isolation. Our communities need us to safely interact and socialize—it’s part of a healthy, happy, intergenerational lifestyle.

Dr.  Hendrickson said by blending increased physical activity, mindfulness, healthy social interaction and good nutrition can help our families lead healthier, happier lives.

About ThedaCare

For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization serves a community of more than 600,000 residents and employs more than 6,700 healthcare professionals throughout the regions. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose as well as 31 clinics in nine counties. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a non-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service.

For more information, visit www.thedacare.org or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.

Media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public Relations Specialist at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.