Having two teenagers of my own, a recent article in The IPSSAN – publication of The Independent Pool & Spa Association, Inc. – struck a chord. It addresses the reality that electronic gadgets are taking our kids away from good old-fashioned socialization and exercise.
There is hope, though! According to Dr. Ralph Morris, physician and member of the Water Quality and Health Council, “…parents are influential. They can work with their children to strike a balance this summer.” Morris discussed the issue Chris Wiant, PH.D. and chair of the Water Quality and Health Council, and offered the following tips to parents to help them get their kids more active this summer. An audio discussion is available at www.healthypools.org/media. As part of the its summer Healthy Pools awareness initiative the Council is also offering free pool test kits at this site.
5 Tips for Keeping Kids Active this Summer
- Discuss with your children the health consequences of spending
too much time on electronic devices at the expense of physical activity, such as swimming in the pool. If they know that sedentary activities have real health consequences, even at their age, they may be more motivated to get moving.
- Have a family meeting to decide together what the right mix of time is for your family on electronic devices versus physical activities. The key is working together to set goals, making kids part of the decision-making process.
- If you don’t own a pool, ask your children if they would swim more if you made a commitment to get them to a pool on a regular basis. You might be surprised at how willing the kids will be to unplug if given the opportunity to swim.
- Locate the municipal or community pool in your area, find out the hours of operation, and build in time to get their with your children.
- Lead by example. Show your interest in spending face-to-face time with your children. Exp
lain to them how too much time on electronic devices can be socially isolating. Let your children know that you are also willing to turn off your computer, smart phone and television to have fun withthem.
Outside of the obvious fun it can provide, swimming is also a good form of physical activity, according to Michele Hlasva, chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Healthy Swim Program. Benefits include improved cardiovascular health, increased strength and flexibility, motor skills development, weight management…and, the one that caught me by surprise, is management of asthma symptoms.
A well-maintained pool — one with proper chlorine level and pH — is key to making swimming a truly healthy activity. In fact the proper balance not only makes swimming a healthy activity for asthma-sufferers, but also reduces the risk of swimming-related ear infections as well as diarrhea from waterborne germs.
My kids recently informed me that the gadget market is now trying to get in on the fun with cases that allow them to bring their smartphones into the pool and take pictures and video. And, the new Samsung Galaxy S4 includes a hover feature that allows you to hover over the screen in the event you have wet hands. I think we’ll just keep the devices safely away from the pool for now, thank you very much.
There’s plenty of summer left to turn the power button off on those devices and take the plunge into the pool, sans the gadgets.
Material for this article was obtained by permission from The IPPSAN July 2013 Issue. For more information on The Independent Pool and Service Association visit www.ipssa.com.