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Health Tip: How to Keep Kids Active and Cool in the Peak of Summer Heat

By Jenna Pizzi

Karin Richards

Karin Richards, chair of the Department of Kinesiology at University of the Sciences.

During the dog days of summer, when temperatures are holding steady around 90 degrees, it can be easy to let your children sit in front of the television while enjoying the cool of the air conditioning. But as the fall approaches, it is important to get the kids in an active routine, burning some energy during the day so that they can fall asleep on schedule at night, said Karin Richards, chair of the Kinesiology Department at University of the Sciences.“My daughter Madison is an only child with no kids her age in our neighborhood so it can be challenging to get her up and moving,” said Richards. “I have learned to ‘disguise’ fitness with fun activities to keep her off her phone and away from TV.”A few ideas to get your family exercising safely in the heat:

  • Inside or outside, the pool can be a good, cool place for the whole family. Philadelphia’s public pools offer free fun for everyone. Indoors, the local gym or community center may offer a day pass or drop-in price and a pool. Philadelphia Sports Club offers guest passes and the YMCA has memberships just for the summer months, which allows you to access clubs across the tristate region.
  • Get up early for some playtime in the mall. Before the stores open, the main doors to most malls remain open, providing long corridors of air conditioned play area. For some extra fun bring a balloon to knock around and don’t let it touch the ground. For the little ones, check out the indoor playground.
  • Indoor play zones also offer a refuge from the humidity. It seems trampoline parks and indoor playgrounds are popping up everywhere these days so look for a Groupon to help cut the cost. Indoor rock climbing can be a challenge and a workout.
  • A fitness class can be a great way to break a sweat without going out in the heat. Try something new like karate, yoga or Zumba. With a class pass so you can sample different types of classes without having to pay drop-in fees at different studios. Who knows, you or your child may find a new sport for the entire school year, too!
  • You can still get outside and get some fresh air, but be strategic about it. In the evening the sun isn’t as strong, and you’ll do best in a shady location like Wissahickon Valley Park’s Forbidden Drive. Things to keep in mind for a cooler walk: Areas near water will offer a bit of a breeze, wear lightweight, light-colored clothing, and don’t challenge yourself too much with a steep incline. Bring plenty of water too!

Indoors or out always listen to your body for warning signs of dehydration or heat exhaustion. To keep hydrated, monitor the amount of water you drink. By keeping a reusable water bottle with you, it will be a constant reminder to stay hydrated. Adding lemon or fruit to your water for a fun flavor without added calories and stay hydrated with foods like watermelon, celery, cantaloupe, and cucumbers.

Richards has an MS in sport management from Slippery Rock University and is pursuing her doctorate in health policy. She is nationally certified as a personal trainer and group exercise instructor by the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Council on Exercise.To arrange an interview with Richards contact Jenna Pizzi at 215-596-8864 or

Categories: News, Feature Story, Faculty, Health Tip, Samson College, Exercise Science and Wellness Management