Health & Fitness

Summer fitness ideas can help kids avoid too much TV

Your kids may tell you they can't wait for summer, but the words "I'm bored" inevitably will be spoken many times from June through August.

While children enjoy the freedom that comes with the summer months, they still need to have a little structure to their fun.

Middle school-age kids could be the toughest to keep busy and out of trouble in the summer months. They are too young to get a job, but too old for some of the summertime activities that youngsters enjoy.

Many times they are home alone throughout the day with nothing to do except watch television and play video games. What they need are ways to stay active and healthy on their own.

It's important for kids to learn exercise habits at a young age to keep their hearts strong and to prevent the many diseases associated with obesity. If kids acquire good exercise habits at a young age, they're likely to practice them throughout their lives.

Parents can help by planning for their children to get at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day — not necessarily all in one block of time.

Here are a few summer fitness ideas:

At home ideas: Keep a variety of games and sports equipment on hand. They don't have to be expensive — an assortment of balls (soccer, basketball, baseball, tennis, and playground), hula-hoops, and jump ropes can keep a child busy for hours.

Walking the dog to simply playing with it provide an opportunity for activity. The Internet has lots of sites that offer exercise, zumba, dance, kickboxing, pilates and yoga videos for kids to learn on their own.

Local parks: You'll find basketball courts, tennis courts, football fields, baseball fields and soccer fields at area parks. Some offer more unique activities like Frisbee golf, croquet fields, horseshoe pits, miniature golf courses, and skateboarding areas. You can find out what each park offers at

Summer programs: The YMCA, city recreation centers, the Boys & Girls Club of Wichita, fitness centers, racquet clubs, sports facilities and schools have various day camps, classes and workshops that provide a variety of activities. They include sports like soccer and basketball to more nontraditional activities such as martial arts, gymnastics or table tennis.

Other ideas: Bowling, laser tag, ice skating, roller skating, golf, in-line skating, canoeing, gardening, swimming, cycling or simply taking a walk are a few more simple ideas to keep your student active this summer.