Tips to get kids moving


Pokémon Go is getting many kids off the couch this summer, but the online game is far from the only option for physical activity. Here are some ideas from P.E. teachers affiliated with the UCLA Health Sound Body Sound Mind program, an organization dedicated to fighting childhood obesity and helping students develop healthy fitness habits that will last a lifetime.

“I always encourage students to keep active in the summer,” says Martin Wurmlinger, a SBSM-affiliated P.E. teacher at Irving STEAM Magnet Middle School in Los Angeles. “I stress just getting out and finding an activity that keeps them moving and raises heart rate levels.”

  1. Create a circuit program. This will hit all five components of fitness: cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, body composition and flexibility. For example, do a set of pushups, an abdominal exercise, a movement that raises heart rate (jumping jacks or high knees), a leg movement (squats or lunges), then a stretch. “Time yourself and see how many times you can complete the cycle in 6 to 10 minutes,” suggests Wurmlinger.
  2. Make it a game. Set up a game in which you pretend to jump rope across America, Asia, Europe, or wherever. Wear a pedometer and at the end of the jumping session, mark the pedometer mile number and track it on a map. “Once you’ve gone the equivalent of the nation or continent’s width, celebrate with a healthy dinner at a restaurant that serves the food of that region,” says Boa Hoang, a P.E. teacher at Edwin Markham Middle School in Los Angeles. He also recommends checking out exercise apps. “For kids who like to stay connected to their smart phones, there are many options available that provide a 7- to 15- minute workout.”
  3. Try burpees. “A burpee is a full-body exercise used for strength training and aerobic exercise,” says P.E. teacher Cathi Cornell of Christopher Columbus Middle School in Los Angeles. To do a burpee, start in standing position, then drop to a squat with your hands on the ground; kick back your feet to a plank position; return to a squat; and jump from the squat position. Or, she suggests, if you have access to a pool, swim two laps at full speed, then rest 30 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
  4. Turn off the screen. “Summer is a good time to simply go outside and play,” says John Kruse, the P.E. teacher at Alfred Bernhard Nobel Middle School in Los Angeles. Exercise videos are a good option if it’s too hot, or you can wait until it cools off in the evening and go for a brisk hike.

“I encourage students to do physical fitness activities with friends or family,” adds Wurmlinger. ”That’s usually more fun and a great motivator.”

For more information on UCLA Health Sound Body Sound Mind, visit

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