Summer activity fights brain drain and weight gain

By John L. Reilly - District Executive Director, Indian Valley Family YMCA
Connecticut - posted Tue., Apr. 2, 2013
YMCA CT Contributed
For more information about summer camp and other experiences with the YMCA, visit Courtesy photo.

I'm not sure which is going to come first: The last day of school, or the day that the giant mountain of snow in the grocery store parking lot finally melts. I can tell you one thing - everyone in my household is ready for summer. Lazy mornings, hazy days, and nowhere to go (well, for the kids).

Sounds like a dream. While summer should be a time to get up, get out and grow, kids will be at a greater risk for brain drain and weight gain when the school year ends. Research shows that without activities to keep their minds and bodies active, kids are likely to gain weight twice as fast and show little to no academic growth - some losing one to two months of grade level equivalency - over the summer.

Research also demonstrates marked gains in cognitive and affective achievement for students as a whole when they participate in learning outside the classroom.

Here are six ideas to help families combat summer brain drain and weight gain:

1. Give your kids a jump rope. It’s an awesome way to have fun and keep moving. They can go solo or get others in on the fun. Commit to healthy living by keeping the bodies and minds in your home active this summer.

2. Send your kids to camp. It's an effective bridge for youth development from school year to school year. Campers are encouraged to explore, discover and learn in the out-of-doors, nurtured by positive role models.

3. Visit your local library. Explore new books you and your kids may have missed to keep your mind sharp during summer.

4. Have a family outing at your local park to get your heart pumping before evening meals. Play ball, run or create an obstacle course by using equipment in the park. Take turns letting everyone in your family make up something and have fun!

5. Take a walking staycation. Map out a new neighborhood or hiking trail in your area and get your family to explore on foot. It's a great way to make Saturday a healthy, active start to the weekend.

6. Start a book series and read together each night as a family. Reading at night keeps the brain buzzing and young minds active!
With summer less than two months away, keeping kids healthy and active requires planning and preparation. Start thinking now about what your kids will need to grow and achieve all summer long!

For more information about summer experiences with the YMCA, visit

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