Youth Get Physical in the Summer Sun

Posted by Mary McIlrath on Thu, Jul 05, 2018 @ 10:34 AM

It’s summer vacation, when parents encourage their kids to take a break from the video game controller, get outside and move.  It’s an important notion, not just for burning off energy and getting some fresh air, but also because physical activity is associated with endorphin release and a feeling of well-being, as well as the satisfaction and confidence that comes from building skills—physical or otherwise.  Here are four “get moving” trends popping up in communities around the U.S. that can make burning off some energy a bit more fun than the usual trips to the park and the pool:

1. Get Your Museum On. A visit to the museum just got a lot more interesting for kids who want some kinesthetic release in addition to wandering through the exhibits.  The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis opened a new larger, space this year (more than 7 acres) for families to participate in activities from the familiar (basketball and golf) to the more exotic (tackling football dummies or racing pedal cars).  For those on the West Coast, the Portland Children’s Museum in Oregon and the Kidspace Children’s Museum in Pasadena, CA offer similar adventures.
kid yoga outside

2. Get Your Goat (Yoga). Yoga is beneficial to kids as well as adults—that’s why it’s used in so many schools and afterschool programs for relaxation and focus, as well as the physical benefits it provides. Goat yoga classes have popped up on farms all over the country. Essentially, people do their yoga thing while adorable goats wander around, encourage and will jump onto the backs of the participants. There’s also petting and snuggly involved. They’re built-in emotional support animals for kids and adults that bring the yogi experience to a whole new level.  These are available in rural areas from Massachusetts to California and points in between, and some farmers will even bring their animals to visit you. 
 
3. Get Pumped (Iron) Up. Some child athletes start lifting light weights as early as 4th grade to support their bodies in traditional sports.  But now there is an entire powerlifting circuit available to youth.  Several adult powerlifting organizations like USA Powerlifting and United States Powerlifting Association of Irvine that host events targeted to youth as young as 8 years old.  It’s important to note that any child who starts a weightlifting regimen must be closely supervised by a parent lifter or coach, to avoid progressing to weights that are too heavy, and potentially damaging muscles, ligaments, and tendons.  That said, the youth who do participate report feelings of power and achievement, which can carry over and provide confidence in all other aspects of life (including schoolwork).
 
kid skateboard
4. Get Thee to the Skate Park. Long gone are the days of the 1990s when skateboarders were the rebellious bad boys and girls of the urban scene, riding illegally and dangerously in traffic.  A generation later, they’ve evolved into supportive and encouraging communities gathering in public fixture installations across the country—nearly ubiquitously in urban areas and increasingly familiar in suburban ones.  Hanging out, learning tricks, admiring one’s fellow skateboarders, and even recording video to upload to Instagram, are the new good clean fun times of the skate park.  And the proper gear (helmet and pads) makes the sport safer than ever to give it a try.

OUR POV:

Summer is a great time for youth to get outside, try something new, and maybe discover a new passion for a new or different fitness activity.  Keep these trends in mind and try and use your brand to encourage exploration and connection with others as youth get moving.  And, as always, remind youth to remember their sunscreen!

Tags: YouthBeat, youth research, summer vacation, Physical Activity

Youth Are Running Circles Around Adults, Literally

Posted by Mary McIlrath on Wed, Apr 29, 2015 @ 01:58 PM

PACRecently the Physical Activity Council published its annual report on American adults’ participation in physical activity. The results were rather alarming: In this age of fitness wristbands and personal trainers, more than a quarter of all adults reported no physical activity at all in the prior year.  Let’s pause and let that sink in. Not stretching…not playing slow-pitch softball…not walking for exercise...IN A YEAR!

What does this lack of physically active role models at home mean for our country’s youth?  It’s not a simple issue.

Thinkstock P.E.Child advocates call for daily required physical activity among school-aged children, through a curriculum of Physical Education as well as the opportunity for physical activity throughout the day.  However, given the village needed to raise a child, the P.E. teacher is only one of the special experts she gets to see sometimes—in many schools, P.E. is rotated with other specialty topics including Art, Media, and Music.

To address this, some schools are increasing the amount of P.E. children receive to up to 60 times a year, and encouraging teachers in all areas of education to get the children up and active, collaborating, during their lessons across all topics. 

How does this translate into exercise among school-aged children? That news is more encouraging.

Our YouthBeat data show that while only 44% of Kids (grades 1-4) participate in sports either in or out of school, 79% get some kind of exercise at least “a few times a week*.”  That level of exercise peaks at 91% among Tweens (grades 5-8) then starts to dip for time-strapped Teens at 76% (grades 9-12).

What can your brand do to encourage healthy and frequent physical activity among youth? Model physical activity in your communication to them. Some suggestions:

  1. Depict their favorite activities—swimming, walking, and bowling are all among the Top 5 physical activities Kids, Tweens, and Teens do for fun*.
  2. Show other types of play as being active—for example, dress-up can be walking down a makeshift runway, not just standing in front of a mirror.
  3. Perhaps most importantly, model adults of all ages being physically active. Our data show high proportions of co-viewing of media among parents and children. By inspiring adults to get up and move, you’ll inspire their children to follow suit. 

*YouthBeat total year 2014.

Tags: Physical Activity, kids, Youth, Teens, tweens, Adults, Physical Education