This post is sponsored by the American Dairy Association of Indiana in partnership with Fuel Up To Play 60. I was compensated for participating, but all thoughts and opinions are expressly mine.
As much as I love our lazy days of summer, fall is by far my favorite season. No other season can compete with pumpkin spice lattes, back-to-school, and most importantly: FOOTBALL! I’m so excited about my newest football-watching accessory:
The kids aren’t nearly as excited as I am about fall. They hate coffee, waking up early, and losing the TV to non-stop NFL action for an entire Sunday. And it’s horribly embarrassing when your mom shows up to the bus stop in a horse head hat.
Contrary to popular belief, however, back-to-school doesn’t have to mean back-to-the-couch. My kids spent the majority of the summer moving, and while it’s true that we have less hours during the school year to spend playing, we always find time to fit it in. Why is it such a big deal to me? Because we are a playful family, and I know how important it is for little (and big!) bodies to move – especially after sitting much of the day.
Studies have shown that there is a positive association between fitness and key aspects of learning, and that physical fitness can benefit cognitive performance. Kids need play to prepare their brains for learning. I stress the use of the word “play” over “exercise.”
For one, little kids have no idea what you mean by exercise. And once they figure it out, it must seem silly to them. Why would I run around a track in circles when I could play a game of tag instead? Running, biking, climbing, swinging … it’s not exercise to them. It’s play … and it’s fun – just how it should be.
Older kids can be turned off by anything labeled as “exercise.” I know my tween is. But let her walk or bike somewhere by herself as opposed to driving her, and suddenly it’s a wonderful privilege to get moving. We also try to encourage anything she finds fun that gets her playing. Need me to count how many times you can pogo before falling? I’m on it! Her new thing is skateboarding, and she’s had her eye on a penny board. It’s not cheap, but it will get her outside, and so we’re pitching in on it with her.
Of course, not every kid has a family supporting them in the drive to get out and play. That’s why I’m a big fan of the partnership between the American Dairy Association of Indiana and the Indianapolis Colts to support Fuel Up To Play 60. Together they encourage kids to eat well and get 60 minutes of play in daily. In Indiana alone, Fuel Up To Play 60 has awarded more than $227,000 in grants to improve nutrition and fitness in schools. My horse head and I approve.
Check out the Fuel Up To Play 60 website to see how you can get your school involved or support the initiative in some way. And whether you’re young or old, don’t forget to play every day. Your body and brain need it, and your heart and soul will love it.
And of course … Go Colts!