Sign the Summer Fitness Contract
The contract is simple – children and their parents agree to four essential things over the summer:
- Limit sugary drinks
- Eat fruits and veggies
- Limit screen time (including television, computers, and game systems)
- Increase activity
"Parents can be much stronger role models than they think," commented Aaron Carrel, MD, pediatric endocrinologist and researcher with the Initiative. "Agreeing to do these things together can encourage kids to reach their goals."
The need for some kind of incentive was first recognized last year when researchers with the Pediatric Fitness Initiative made a surprising discovery. Over the summer, the middle-school kids in their fitness study actually lost the gains they had made during the school year. This finding was echoed in a large community-wide intervention study in Massachusetts, led by Dr. Christina Economos from Tufts University. Dr. Economos discussed her findings during her recent presentation sponsored by Wisconsin Prevention of Obesity and Diabetes (WiPOD), a coalition that includes the Pediatric Fitness Initiative.
"Being from a generation that grew up playing outside, it was shocking to find out that kids were actually less active during the summer," said Paul Montague, director of the Initiative. "But that left us thinking about how we could create a simple yet educational tool for motivating and guiding kids to stay healthy over those summer months."
The Pediatric Fitness team of experts, including physicians such as Dr. Carrel, nutritionists and exercise physiologists, answered the question: What are a few simple but effective things that kids and families can do to maintain--or even improve--health and fitness over the summer vacation months?
The answers were boiled down into the four simple steps that make up the contract. Kids and their parents sign the contract and then hang it in a place where they can see it every day. That way they can be reminded of their goals. But, families should remember that summer is about relaxation as well.
"The goal of the contract," said Dr. Carrel, "is to make fitness fun as a family."
Date Published: 05/19/2008