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Activities

How to Keep Your Kids Busy, and Healthy, This Summer

Summer is upon us. For kids, that means an opportunity to get active, learn new things, and spend time with friends. For parents, however, arranging a well-rounded schedule can be a lot of work.

Luckily, there are plenty of community resources that have you covered. The City of Los Angeles, LA County, the City of Long Beach, and the YMCA all provide engaging summertime programs with physical and educational activities. These programs not only promote healthy habits and prevent learning loss, but also provide a supportive and inclusive environment for children to thrive. Here’s the health benefits they offer, and where you can find them.  

The Health Benefits of Summer Programs

 

  • Room to Run Regular physical activity is essential for children's overall health and development. It promotes cardiovascular fitness, enhances motor skills, improves mental well-being, and helps maintain a healthy weight. The American Heart Association recommends that children engage in at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity every day. 
  • Preventing Learning Loss — Summer break can often lead to learning loss, where children may experience a decline in academic skills. To combat this, many summer programs incorporate educational activities to keep children engaged and prevent regression. They focus on reinforcing foundational knowledge, encouraging reading, and providing hands-on learning experiences. 
  • Access to Activities Summer programs allow kids to participate in activities designed to help them develop important social skills, build friendships, and foster a sense of community.
  • Nutritious Meals for Healthy Growth Many summertime programs prioritize providing healthy meals to children, as proper nutrition is vital for their growth and development. These programs often offer breakfast, lunch, and snacks that meet the nutritional guidelines, ensuring that children have access to nourishing meals even during the summer months. 

Find the Right Program for Them, and You 

Several programs in Los Angeles and LA County focus on promoting physical activity, preventing learning loss, and providing nutritious meals for children during the summer. Here are a few notable initiatives:

  • LA's Best LA's Best is an after-school enrichment program that extends its services to summer camps. It offers a variety of activities such as sports, arts, and STEM programs, ensuring children stay active, engaged, and intellectually stimulated. 
  • Parks and Recreation Programs — The City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parksorganizes summer programs in local parks, community centers, and pools. They offer a range of activities including sports, arts and crafts, music, and nature exploration. 
  • YMCA Orange County Summer Camps — The YMCA is hosting summer camps for children at locations throughout Orange County. Families can choose between specialty programs like Esports, swim, STEM, and outdoor experiences, or traditional day camps that provide learning and activity clubs.
  • City of Long Beach BE S.A.F.E. Program The Be S.A.F.E. (Summer Activities in a Friendly Environment) program offers free child supervision from 5 to 8 p.m. across nearly a dozen city parks, with activities such as sports, games, arts and crafts, and science lessons. Families can also enjoy outdoor movie screenings on Thursday nights.
  • Summer Lunch Programs — LA County sponsors the Summer Lunch and Snack Program, which provides free meals to children and teens during the summer break. The 47 LA County Parks and 15 LA County Libraries serve lunch from noon to 1 p.m. and the County Parks serve snacks from 3 to 4 p.m. The lunches and snacks include vegetables, fruits, seeds, and healthy dairy products like milk, string cheese, and yogurt. Families in Orange County can access a database of Summer Meal Sites that offer breakfast, lunch, supper, or a combination. Parents should call to verify participation.

There are numerous public and private resources for you to tap into this summer to keep your kids busy, engaged, and learning. This is important for their overall health and well-being. You can always contact AltaMed at (888) 499-9303 if you need a little inspiration. To find additional community resources, including food pantries, housing, or mental health services, visit AltaMed Helps. Please note, AltaMed makes no guarantees about third-party agencies.

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Soccer

Exercises You Can Do at Any Age

We have written extensively about the importance of exercising. Regular exercise has numerous benefits for physical and mental health, including reducing the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease, improving bone density and muscle strength, and boosting mood and cognitive function.

The great news is it doesn’t have to be strenuous. You can reap the benefits of exercise at any age. What matters is that you get moving.

Walking

This is one of the easiest and most accessible exercises for people of all ages. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), brisk walking can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. The Mayo Clinic suggests that walking can help maintain a healthy weight, strengthen bones, and improve balance and coordination. Walking can be done anywhere and anytime, making it a great exercise for everyone from children to seniors.

Strength training

Strength training is important for maintaining muscle mass and bone density, which can help prevent falls and fractures as you age. The Mayo Clinic recommends strength training exercises such as weightlifting, resistance band exercises, and bodyweight exercises. Strength training can be done at home or at a gym, making it a versatile exercise option. They also have a series of videos to show you the proper technique for all types of exercises.

If you don’t have weights or exercise equipment, a full milk jug weighs 8.5 pounds, which you can curl to strengthen your biceps. Use your kitchen chairs to do tricep dips. You can do resistance exercises by holding the end of a towel in each hand and pulling. Also, hold a broom behind your shoulders and do twists at the waist.

Yoga

Yoga is a low-impact exercise that can improve flexibility, balance, and coordination. It can also help reduce stress and anxiety. Yoga is a gentle exercise that can be done at any age and can be modified to suit different abilities. Better yet, you don’t need a gym membership to get started. YouTube is home to thousands of free video classes for every age.

Cycling

Most people see cycling as an intense activity done with special outfits on bikes costing thousands of dollars. It doesn’t have to be like that. At its most basic level, it is a low-impact exercise that can be done outdoors or indoors on a stationary bike. It is a way to improve cardiovascular health, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and increase muscle strength.

Tai chi

Tai chi was developed as a martial art but has evolved to become a gentle exercise that combines slow, flowing movements with deep breathing and meditation. Tai chi can improve balance and flexibility, reduce stress, and increase muscle strength. Tai chi can be done at any age and is particularly beneficial for older adults who may be at risk of falls. You can find free, outdoor lessons for beginners here.

Dancing

You don’t need to know any steps to dance. You just need to let the music move you. Better yet, anyone can dance. It promotes cardiovascular health, increases muscle strength, and improves balance and coordination. As a social activity, it’s also a great way to connect with others.

Swimming

Swimming is a low-impact exercise that is gentle on the joints and is recommended by both the Mayo Clinic and American Heart Association. It can improve cardiovascular health, increase muscle strength, and improve flexibility. Swimming can also be a fun activity for all ages, making it a great exercise for families to do together. Click here to find community pools in your neighborhood. The YMCA of Los Angeles also offers water exercises classes, swimming lessons, and “Open Swim” lanes.

Helping You Get Healthy

AltaMed can help you determine the best exercises for your lifestyle. Contact your doctor if you have a serious health condition like heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, or high blood pressure, or if you’ve recently had cancer treatment. Call us at (888) 499-9303 to make an appointment.

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Putting a Bandage Post Vaccination

Don’t Forget Immunizations Before Going Back to School

As fall approaches and a new school year begins, it's crucial to prioritize the health and safety of children, especially in light of COVID-19. It's important to remember that vaccines offer protection against a range of serious diseases, not just the coronavirus. Before embarking on back-to-school shopping and capturing those first day pictures, ensure that your family has the necessary immunizations to start the school year safely.

Adhering to a Vaccination Schedule

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a recommended vaccination schedule for newborns and children. While infants receive essential vaccinations during their first years of life, additional boosters are necessary for school-aged children. These include vaccines for measles, mumps, and rubella(MMR), varicella (VAR), and an annual flu shot. It's also crucial to ensure children receive vaccinations for tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis (Tdap), human papillomavirus (HPV), and the meningococcal shot.

Girl Getting Vaccinated

COVID-19 Vaccination for Children

COVID-19 continues to pose a threat, even as we return to normal life and the pandemic no longer tops the news. Vaccines are approved for children as young as six months old. If your child is unvaccinated, multiple vaccine series are available, depending on their age: 

Pfizer-Biontech Bivalent Vaccine:

  • Children 6 months to 4 years old – 3 doses
  • Children 5 years and older – 1 dose

Moderna Bivalent Vaccine:

  • Children 6 months to 5 years old – 2 doses
  • Children 6 years and older – 1 dose

If your child is between 6 months to 5 years old and has already received one or more monovalent doses, your health care team will provide you information on current recommendations based on your vaccine history.

Maintaining Prevention Habits

Given the ease with which COVID-19 and other viruses can spread, it’s crucial for children to adopt healthy habits. These include:

  • Practicing washing hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoiding close contact with sick individuals.
  • Covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the crook of an arm.
  • Wearing masks in public when you or a family member are sick.
Kids Boarding to a School Bus

Establishing a New Routine

In addition to vaccines and COVID-19 prevention measures, it's important to be prepared and establish routines for the new school year. Ensure that your child's school or care facility has your updated contact information for emergency purposes. Regularly check your children for signs of illness, including:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Body aches
  • Stay informed about potential COVID-19 exposures and know whom to contact at the school in such cases.

Reinforce proper hand-washing techniques at home and emphasize their importance. Help your child develop daily routines for school, such as using hand sanitizer and a water bottle, as well as washing hands immediately upon returning home.

Stay Informed and Seek Support

Engage in meaningful conversations with your child after school to understand their experiences, and stay attuned to reports of excessive coughing, classroom disruptions, or students leaving school premises due to illness. Being aware of the happenings in their school environment can directly impact your home environment.

Dealing with Change

At AltaMed, we understand the challenges families face during these times. We are here to support you by providing resources for dealing with testing and treating COVID-19, as well as access to vaccines. Additionally, our counseling services can assist children in navigating the stress associated with returning to school.

To learn more about how AltaMed can help, visit AltaMed.org or call us at (888) 499-9303. For information about vaccines or testing, please visit our vaccine hub.

How to Keep Your Kids Busy, and Healthy, This Summer