Kids less active during summer, research reveals

Published: Jun. 21, 2016 at 9:20 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- School's out, the sun is shining, and your kids are eager to get outdoors and be active.

That's what most people may think- but surprisingly, it's not the case.

Research shows that activity levels actually decrease for many kids in the summer.

NBC15's Meredith Barack spoke with a pediatrician who explained why it's so important to make sure your kids are staying active all summer long.

"We go to the park a lot, ride our bikes, go swimming almost everyday, or come to the splash pad."

It's how Kathy Jelinek and her kids like to spend their summer.

"I like to just make sure that they're active and healthy, and keeping busy during the summer instead of just sitting inside all the time," says Jelinek.

Mom Thea Falinski shares the same sentiment.

"I think he'd probably get too much screen time if he didn't get this diversion."

Her son, Charlie, spends much of his summer playing little league.

"I want him to know there's more to life than the computer or the Xbox, so it is, it's very important," explains Falinski.

But are these summer activities enough? One pediatrician says surprisingly, it may not be.

"Data actually shows kids tend to have more sedentary time and less structured physical activity. There's also data that says kids weight goes up over the summer," explains Dr. Aaron Carrel, a pediatrician and the director of the UW Health Pediatric Fitness Clinic.

Dr. Carrel says summertime equals a little bit more boredom, a lot more eating, and too much screen time.

"Parents are great role models so we can often make plans as a family to go do things that are active. We can go out to the park, and we can go biking, or just having a planned a event sometimes is a nice idea to help kids be less sedentary."

Keeping kids active will also provide beneficial once school is back in session.

"There's a lot of evidence that says physical activity is really good for brain growth. Physical activity is really food for concentration, so I think there's some building evidence that says all this physical activity in the summer is actually maybe beneficial for kids as they get back to school in the fall," says Dr. Carrel.

Most importantly, a summer full of running, playing, and swimming can have a lasting impact.

"These are the years that a lot of kids really set some habits. They learn some self-confidence, and things they can do."

Dr. Carrel also wants to remind parents that being active doesn't have to mean spending money. You can easily take advantage of the lakes, parks, and biking and walking trails Madison has to offer.