Help your kids fuel up for activity

With school out for the summer, your kids are gearing up for days filled with playtime. Steer them away from the video games and into the Great Outdoors — but first, make sure they’re fueled up and ready to go!

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends kids get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. In the summertime, hitting (and exceeding) that recommendation is easier. There’s plenty of time for your kids to swim, play in the backyard, swing or kick around the soccer ball to their hearts’ content.

How can you make sure your kids have the energy they need? It’s actually pretty simple.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

Long summer days bring hot, humid weather to the Chattanooga area. While running around having fun, kids may forget to drink water frequently to help stave off dehydration. And by the time they realize they’re thirsty, they may already be dehydrated.

Here are a few ways to keep your kids hydrated while having fun in the sun:

  • Encourage kids to stop and get a drink of water at least every hour. If they’re being particularly active — say, playing a game of pickup basketball — they should stop for a drink every 20 minutes.
  • Skip sports drinks. Unless your kids are involved in an extended, physically exhausting activity, they’ll be fine with plain water. If you still want to replenish their electrolyte levels, give them a snack that includes a piece of fruit along with water. This has the same effect as sports drinks without the added calories and sugar.
  • Sneak in hydration. Include plenty of fruits and vegetables in every meal. These have a high water content and will naturally help replenish fluids. You can also add a little fun with some popsicles, which will give your kids fluids and good flavor.

Try out this simple recipe for homemade frozen treats:

Blend 2 cups of strawberries or 3 cups kiwifruit or 3 cups cantaloupe with 1 cup of 100 percent orange juice. Pour mixture into four paper cups and place in freezer until partially frozen. After one hour, place craft sticks or plastic spoons in the center of the cup and freeze until firm. Peel away paper cup and enjoy!

Eats and treats

During the summer, it can be easy to fall into a habit of letting your kids grab whatever they’d like to eat. To keep them filled with the energy they need to be physically active, try filling up your kitchen (and their plates) with a blend of healthy carbohydrates and lean proteins.

Carbohydrates are a natural source of energy, and they provide an immediate energy boost. But, if you want that energy boost to stick around for a while, the carb needs to be balanced with a bit of protein. Think crackers with peanut butter, fruit with Greek yogurt dip or pretzels with hummus.

Your kids will have fun with this breakfast or snack recipe for a healthy banana split:

Cut one small banana in half lengthwise. Spoon 1/2 cup of low-fat Greek yogurt into a bowl, then place banana halves on each side. Top yogurt with 1 tablespoon of low-fat granola and 1/2 cup of fresh berries. Dig in!

If you experience a heat-related emergency this summer — or any other kind — Children’s Hospital at Erlanger offers the emergency care your child needs.