Summertime is here, school is out and the weather is great.

Summer is a season in which children have plenty of time to travel, play with friends and get plenty of exercise. This means that they should be dropping weight, right? Wrong. Sadly, for many children summer becomes a time of physical inactivity and unhealthy eating. A recent study by the University of Texas suggests that children lose weight during the school year and gain it during the summer. The national study conducted on more than 18,000 school children found that during the summer the number of overweight kids climbed from 23.3 to 28.7 percent. “The structured nature of the school day, with its scheduled exercise periods and limited opportunities to eat, helps students maintain a healthy BMI,” said Paul von Hippel, a health policy researcher at the University of Texas, Austin. Video games are also to blame, as they have taken away children’s desire to go outside. According to a recent study conducted by MacAfee, in 2018, children played 15 hours of video games on average each week, while only exercising for 7 hours. This number only increases as children have more free time during the summer.

It is important that children get outside and exercise, and the reasons go deeper than just losing weight. One of the many benefits of going outside is the sun. The sun is a source of Vitamin D and dopamine, two significant compounds that humans need in order to function properly. Together these two compounds support healthy bodies and healthy minds by regulating mood and improving the immune system. Exercise is also good because it improves brain function, memory, learning, sleep and reduces stress. These are all needed in order to support the developing brain of a child.

Although sport has many benefits, it can be very expensive. However, you do not always need to pay top dollar for your child to have fun. We've listed some cost-effective outdoor activities that will keep children active and engaged during the summer:

1. Running

This is the cheapest form of exercise. You do not need expensive gear or a ball, just a pair of athletic shoes. To keep children more engaged you can play a game that involves being chased or avoiding capture, as children often loved being chased. Capture the flag, freeze tag and statue are all good games.

2. Skipping

All you need is a rope! From there you can play a multitude of games, such as double dutch, relay race roping or even snake.

3. Swimming

It’s summertime so beaches and swimming should already be on your mind! All you need is some swim wear and you’re good to go.

4. Badminton

All you need is some rackets and a shuttlecock, which won’t cost you much. From there, head to a nearby court and have a blast!

5. Beach/park Volleyball

If you love beaches then beach volleyball is perfect for you. A volleyball won’t cost you much either. Just hit up a local department store, pick up a ball and you’re good to go.

6. Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger hunts are perfect for children of all ages. They teach children persistence, teamwork and coordination with others, and the best part is that they do not cost much.

7. Hiking

Get away from the city life by taking your children out for a hike in the countryside. You and your children will be more relaxed as nature takes you away from the stresses of the city life. On top of that, your children will encounter different species of animals out in the wild. The children will love it!

8. Ping Pong

Ping Pong tables are easily found in any arcade and usually don’t cost much to use. Not only is Ping Pong affordable, but it also teaches children how to improve their hand-eye coordination.

9. Basketball

This is a no-brainer. Children love basketball and you won’t have a hard time getting them to have fun. In fact, you’ll probably want to leave the court before they do. Basketball teaches children life lessons, such as teamwork, hard work and perseverance.

10. Football

This should come as no surprise that football is on the list. One of the reasons footy is so beloved is because it can be played almost anywhere. All you need is a makeshift goal and you’re good to go!

These are just some activities you can do this summer to keep your children active. Maybe you have your own, or maybe you’ll take something from this list. What's important is keeping children active and engaged this summer!

Play. Believe. Achieve.