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"After-school recess" sneaks in a few extra hours of physical activity into the school-year routine By Bridget Marie Thompson

For most parents, fall is a whirlwind of after-school meetings, tight schedules, homework and dwindling family time. Even after the dash becomes daily routine, the hours between school and dinner often get lost in the shuffle.

To rescue these important hours, assign your kids the task of hosting “after-school recess” during that time each day. Research proves that kids have better behavior, experience less stress and are more focused when they get regular, heart-pumping exercise. No matter how they decide to do it, your entire family can benefit from a little more active play.

“After-school recess” also allows children to explore the types of exercise and physical activities they enjoy, which will foster good habits they can carry into college and beyond. Not all kids are athletic, and encouraging movement allows you to shift their focus off of achievement and onto personal responsibility, time-management and fitness.

We all struggle with finding the right ways to get and stay fit, so here are some suggestions for ways to get them moving:

  • Teach your kids about High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Let them watch TV in their workout gear, but during commercials, it’s on! Change exercises with each commercial.
  • Create an easy garden without digging up your yard. Use staw bales as natural containers to grow fall veggies like crispy red radishes, carrots or kale. Instructions can be found on GeorgiaFACES at http://tinyurl.com/UGAhaybalegardens.
  • Younger kids love Cosmic Yoga (www.cosmickids.com/category/watch/). With each episode around 20 minutes and dozens of episodes to choose from, your kids will be yoga masters before long.
  • Use some of the kids’ activities on WalkGeorgia.org.
  • Have chores? Make it a workout! Take the laundry up the stairs five times before putting it away, pull some weeds or rake the yard.
  • If they have siblings, let each child choose one activity for 15-30 minutes and switch off activities in the middle. Foot races and shooting ball go together like peanut butter and jelly.
  • Make a YouTube playlist of exercise videos for kids — perfect for any rainy day.
  • Visit WalkGeorgia.org, where there are lots of fitness demos that can teach kids classic moves for the gym or exercises they can use right at their school desk.

With a little guidance, your children can learn for an extra 180 hours this school year, but shhhh! For them, we will just call it “after-school recess.” Don’t forget to track their 180 “after-school recess” hours on WalkGeorgia.org, and make sure to reward their hard work in the spring.

(Bridget Thompson is the public relations specialist for the University of Georgia's Walk Georgia program.)

Get Active Play
Get Active Play

Planning for a daily "after-school recess" time can help parents work a little more active playtime in their children's busy lives.

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Planning for a daily "after-school recess" time can help parents work a little more active playtime in their children's busy lives. Download Image
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