The trifecta — nutrition, education and exercise — are essential to helping children succeed in and out of the classroom. The majority of U.S. children, though, are not getting the daily recommended hours of physical activity, reading or daily amounts of healthy foods. According to the latest YMCA Family Health Snapshot — a survey of parents that gauges their children’s activity levels during the school year — only 17 percent read books for fun and only 12 percent eat at least eight fruits and vegetables daily. Studies also show kids are at even greater risk of falling behind in these areas during the summer.
It’s not too late to get your kids "in training" for the new school year. Use the remaining days of summer vacation to seek out fun ways for the whole family to be mentally and physically active. Learning enrichment activities, like visits to museums or an aquarium, can get children’s minds and bodies active. Another idea is to take a weekend trip to nearby historic spots.
There are also things you can do at home as a family to encourage physical activity and learning now and throughout the school year:
Dr. Matt Longjohn is national health officer at YMCA of the USA, national resource officer for 2,700 Ys across the country.
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