Great ideas to keep your kids fit through encouraging them to swim

Great ideas to keep your kids fit through encouraging them to swim

Keep Your Kids Fit!

from Johnson Pools

Keep Your Kids Fit with After-school Swimming

by Kara Murphy

Summer playtime may soon be supplanted with sitting in a classroom, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all children exercise for at least 60 minutes a day—every day.

“It’s important to keep children active year-round,” says Alicia Kockler, national aquatics program manager for Life Time Fitness at the company headquarters in Chanhassen, Minn. “But while this is easily accomplished during the summer months when kids are involved in organized sports, they are typically not engaging in the same level of activity once school is back in session.”

So how can you keep your kids fit once school starts? Try using your pool to make fitness fun. Jason Dews, personal aquatic trainer at the Oak Brook Park District in Oak Brook, Ill., says a pool provides low-impact exercise that is perfect for any fitness level.

Before you close down your pool for the cooler months, keep your kids active with the following aquatic activities:

1. Sharks and minnows: “A fun game for swimmers of any level,” Kockler says. This game keeps kids active as they swim back and forth across the pool attempting to escape the “shark.”

Directions: One person is the shark, and the remaining players are minnows. The minnows begin at one end of the pool, holding onto the pool wall. Once the shark calls out, “sharks and minnows,” all of the minnows swim to the other end of the pool. The shark attempts to tag players when their heads are above water. If a minnow is tagged, that player becomes a shark and helps tag the remaining minnows in future swims across the pool.

2. Freeze tag: This traditional schoolyard game is even more fun in the water, Kockler says.

Directions: Designate one player as the tagger who swims around trying to tag and freeze the other players. For a fun pool twist, you can unfreeze players by swimming under their legs. Continue playing until the tagger has successfully frozen every player. Then pick a new tagger and begin another round. Ideally, this game should be played in shallow water, where frozen players can touch the ground. If you are in deeper water, frozen players can tread water, just be certain of their swimming ability. And, under no circumstances, should you ever leave the pool unattended.

3. Water volleyball or basketball: Instead of playing these games in the yard, try them in the water for better exercise. “Because water provides a higher level of resistance, children are working their bodies harder playing a game in the pool than if they played the same game on dry land,” Dews says.

Directions: Using either a pool volleyball net or basketball hoop, divide players into two equal teams, and play by traditional basketball or volleyball rules.

4. Relay Races: Relay races are a great option for combining pool fun and exercise, Dews says.

Directions: You can hold races using traditional swimming strokes or make the races a little more fun. Try this dolphin relay race: Using beach balls, have kids push their team’s ball across the pool using only their nose. Once the swimmer reaches the other side of the pool, the next teammate can take over and head back across.

5. Scavenger Hunt: Scatter a variety of toys and coins throughout the pool for your kids to collect—and let them keep the coins as a fun prize.

Directions: Spread items, such as coins or diving toys, all over the pool while your kids stand at the edge with their eyes closed tight. When all of the items are in the water, call out, “Go!” Children can then swim around the pool collecting items until nothing is left. Whoever grabs the most toys and coins is the winner. Scatter toys that float on the surface for younger children. Once the game is over, be sure to remove all uncollected coins and metal toys to prevent the possibility of staining.

While daily exercise is important for every child, these pool games mix fitness with fun, making it easy for you to keep your kids active even as summer comes to a close. “Often, kids don’t even realize they are exercising when they play in a pool,” Dews says.

Of course, water safety begins and ends with strict adult supervision. You should never leave children in a swimming pool unattended—even for a brief period.

article from