Kids don’t always want to exercise. Frankly, many parents don’t either. However, you can miss out on a lot of benefits if you avoid sweat and dirt. Read on to learn ways you and your family can safely, creatively, and enjoyably go outside and stay active.
First, a few safety tips…
Encouraging kids to give upthe screen and play outside can make some parents anxious. Today, we’re moreaware of kidnappings, scary diseases, and other hazards that make us want tokeep our kids in bubble wrap. It’s rarer and rarer to see unsupervised childrenhaving adventures in the neighborhood. However, this belief may just be aperception created by today’s media. Use this as an opportunity to teach yourkids street and safety smarts:
- Encourage helmets for activities like biking andskateboarding. Helmets save lives. Some kids might think helmets are “uncool,” somake sure your kid has plenty of choosing power for theirs. Take them shoppingand let them pick a high-quality helmet with cool graphics and a comfortablefit.
- If your kids have allergies or asthma, always remind them tobring their medication. Buy a few extra emergency products, just in case.Pro-tip: you can find significantly cheaper asthma and allergy drugs likeAdvair and EpiPens online with Canadian pharmacy referral services like Rx Connected.
- If your kid doesn’t have special health needs, they can stillget scrapes and bruises. Have your kid carry emergency bandages in theirbackpack and teach them how to properly clean and treat wounds.
- Have a family code word. In case an emergency happens and yourequire someone else to fetch your kid, teach your kid not to follow anybodyunless they say the code word.
In general, use common sense,not paranoia. Young children shouldn’t be out late at night, of course, andadults should always supervise kids playing in less-populated areas likecampgrounds and parks.
Why stay active?
If germs are what you’reworried about, consider this: kids who get dirty have stronger immune systems.According to the hygiene hypothesis, the reason whywell-developed countries have higher incidences of allergies and asthma isbecause children’s immune systems are too sheltered from germs at a young age.
Outdoor activities to help you stay fit
Besides sports, there areplenty of things you can do to stay fit. Health benefits aside, play allowsfamilies to bond and practice good communication, problem-solving, and teamworkskills.
- Build a treehouse (or otherstructure).
Construction is hard work!Just ask the next construction worker you see. Almost all kids love the idea ofhaving their own fort, treehouse, or other play structure. You’re not limitedto a fort. You can also build a:
- Bird feeder or birdhouse
- Skateboard ramp
- Catio (a safer outdoor space forthe family cat!)
- Teach your kids how to growfood.
This is a way to trick yourkids into helping you with chores while getting them outside and moving at thesame time. Kids might not like the idea of helping mom and dad water plants andpull weeds, but they may be more excited about growing their own food. You candesignate an area of the yard they are responsible for and teach them valuableknowledge about plant biology. Having a plant “pet” can also teach kidsresponsibility.
- Double-dutch or other fancyjump rope games.
Jump rope games are greatbecause you don’t need a lot of space or equipment. Jumping rope as a group ingames like Double Dutch can also build teamwork and co-operation skills becauseeveryone has to work together. Furthermore, skipping is a very intense sport,so expect to burn lots of calories.
- Shadow tag, flashlight tag,and other derivatives
Your kids might quickly growout of tag, but “alternative” tag games can be your answer to this problem.Flashlight tag is perfect for a camping trip or if you live near a wooded area.Shadow tag can become a summer pastime.
If your kids are fans offranchises like Harry Potter, they can bring their favorite magical worlds tolife. For example, you can play Quidditch by using household brooms and makingthe rule that it must always be between your legs. Hula hoops on the ground canbe used as goalposts. A person that runs around and hides can be the Snitch!
For more rules, look up theInternational Quidditch Association. It’s a thing.
- Make up your own game
Encourage your kids to makeup their own game. Kids are naturally creative, but if they need a little extrahelp, they can base their real-life game on a video game, TV show, or otherthing they love but usually sit still to enjoy. Encourage wacky costumes,props, and complex rules. Use traditional items like balls and goals but alsouse pool noodles, stuffed animals, tables and chairs, or whatever else you canthink of.
- Local attractions
Have the entire family go ona fun outing to a local attraction. Museums, aquariums, and galleries oftenhave family passes so you can save money. Plus, going out gets your kidsactive, exploring, and learning about the world around them.
- Hiking, birdwatching,fishing, camping etc.
For the outdoorsy kid, thepossibilities are endless. Hiking is an obvious choice, but simply setting upand maintaining camp keeps you on your feet too. This is also a goodopportunity to teach your kid life skills like how to start a fire, tie knots,read a compass, and outdoor safety.
When you’re trying to getyour family outside, you’re not restricted to traditional sports! Get creativeand go explore; you might just find a new hobby that makes you healthierwithout you even realizing it.