Fitness

How to help your kids be more active and spend more time outdoors

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Kids playing hide and seek in autumn park

Sergey Novikov / Shutterstock

According to a recent study reported in The International Journal of Obesity, obese children who regularly exercise aerobically are up to 36% less likely than less active kids to develop cardiovascular disease and diabetes as adults. Clearly, exercise of any kind is a strong indicator of a healthy child, but this is a way that parents can help protect their children well after they’ve grown into adulthood.

The problem is, how can you get your kids to be more active when the majority of activities that kids now participate in are passive? Modern youngsters are often more interested in sitting down and texting friends, sharing photos or playing video games than running around and being active. Yet, no matter what age we live in, kids are kids, and there are still some time-tested things that will entice your kids off the couch. Especially with the holidays coming up, you have an opportunity to promote fitness and health in your kids. Try these to help your kids be more active and spend more time outdoors.

Get Them a Tent

Who among us doesn’t have fond memories of the tent in the backyard? Knowing that mom and dad aren’t far away and that lions aren’t likely to be lurking in mom’s rosebushes makes the backyard tent exciting yet secure.

Your kids will love setting up a campsite in the backyard. Supply them with all the extras, including sleeping bags and a flashlight. To make this outdoor tradition more active, encourage the kids to find their own firewood (sticks in the backyard), and plan a backyard scavenger hunt that all their friends can participate in.

Make Time and Set the Example

Young kids love one thing above all else, and that’s spending time with parents. Have family time frequently. When it does become available, use family time as a way to show your kids the joy of being outdoors. This can be as simple as tossing a ball to each other in the backyard, or renting a canoe for a ride in the local lake. There’s nothing wrong with family game night where everyone sits around a board game, but if health and fitness are an issue in your family, consider swapping a passive activity for one such as playing tennis together or building a go-kart in the driveway.

Your example will create a lifetime of memories, as well as set a pattern of healthy choices for your kids now and when they become parents.

Give Them Outdoor Chores

Most parenting experts agree that kids of all ages should have chores. As a family member, it makes sense that everyone should contribute something to the household, no matter how small. Even a 3-year old should be helping to pick up toys from the floor and putting them back in the toy basket. With fitness and outdoor activities in mind, consider giving your kids outdoor tasks and chores that will get them out of the house and into the fresh air. Examples include:

  • Raking leaves
  • Mowing the lawn
  • Gathering stick kindling for the backyard fire pit
  • Shoveling snow
  • Delivering a welcome basket to a new neighbor
  • Washing/Painting the backyard fence
  • Changing lamppost light bulbs
  • Planting/weeding the garden
  • Provide Active Toys

Throwing money at a problem is rarely a solution, but in the case of helping kids be more active, making sure they have active toys can help. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on these items. Toys are abundant at yard sales, and you can usually find things that are nearly as good as new with a little fixing up. Consider providing these items that will help promote activity:

  • Skateboard
  • Hula Hoop
  • Bicycle
  • Unicycle
  • Trampoline

Let’s face it. Kids are kids. They are easily distracted, especially when presented with something “awesome” like a new bicycle. Why not distract your kids from their screens, throw open the doors and introduce them to the great outdoors, where health and fitness await!

 

 

Kate Supino is a freelance writer who enjoys sharing her research and experience with readers everywhere. She lives in sunny South Florida.