Health Tips For Summer Fun In The Sun by Leslie Moland
07/06/2016 08:47AM ● Published by Nancy Babin
Whether summer means long lazy days or hours of fun in the sun, it seems to be everyone’s favorite time of year. Once all the homework is done and school is out, it can be easy to throw caution to the wind, but for parents, there are always health concerns to consider.
“During the summer months, it is easy to fall out of routine,” says White-Wilson Medical Center Pediatrician Dr. Kyle Simmers. “Some children become less and less active, spending hours indoors and in front of TVs, video games and cell phones.”
Dr. Simmers suggests setting boundaries for the amount of screen time children indulge in each day, and stick to them. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that children should be limited to only one to two hours of screen time per day and should also engage in activates such as reading, writing, making crafts, playing games or doing household activities.
It is also important that children get outside and get active. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children ages two and older engage in a minimum 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity daily. While most know that physical activity is key in development and weight reduction, many don’t realize its important psychological effects. Regular physical activity is linked to increased self-esteem and to decreased anxiety and depression, helping keep children happy and healthy.
One way to ensure that children are receiving ample physical activity is to set aside time for family activities that get everyone moving. Evening walks, pick-up games of basketball or kickball, swimming and bike rides can be enjoyed by the whole family. They also make exercise a fun bonding experience. Parents will be happy to learn that activities like mowing the lawn, raking leaves and washing cars qualify as physical activity.
While enjoying time outdoors, parents should take summertime precautions to stay safe. It is important that children wear sunblock while spending time outdoors, even when it is cloudy.
“I recommend that parents apply sunscreen with an SPF of 35 or greater before kids head outside,” recommends Dr. Simmers. “It is best to apply before children get wet or sweaty and to reapply at least every two hours.”
Don’t forget to check the expiration date on bottles of sunblock to ensure that product will work effectively. If the product does not have an expiration date, write the purchase date on the bottle with a marker. Most products remain effective for up to three years, but if you see any changes in color or consistency, discontinue use.
“It is important that children stay hydrated during hot summer days,” warns Dr. Simmers. “Some children avoid drinking water and opt for sugary drinks or nothing at all. Unfortunately, this can lead to dehydration, especially when paired with physical activity.”
Dr. Simmers recommends that parents keep sugary drinks out of the house since they have little to no nutritional value. Instead, children should drink water throughout the day and before physical activity. While outdoors or active, they should take water breaks every 20 minutes.
Summer is a time for family and fun in the sun. On the Emerald Coast, we know how to make the most of its long days and let loose. Taking precautionary measures will ensure that children make the most of their summer break and return to school happy and healthy.
Dr. Kyle Simmers is certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and is currently accepting new patients at the White-Wilson Pediatric Clinic in Niceville.