Outdoor Ideas To Get Kids Moving

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By Jessica Wilson

active familyThe most common notion surrounding kids is that they’re more prone to going outside and playing there for what could easily turn into hours. However, some kids find themselves spending less time outside mostly because of other leisure activities such as playing video games and checking their own social media accounts. Nowadays, indoor activities tend to take up most of their free time instead of engaging in outdoor play. For them to get moving, presented below are some fun ideas that kids can do outdoors instead of occupying themselves with sedentary hobbies that can negatively affect their health in the long run.

Why Should Kids Spend Some Time Outdoors?

In an ideal world, every kid should have the right to some outdoor play time. Unfortunately, some kids all over the world spend less time outside of their own homes which can be attributed to a couple of things. The first one is that pastimes that don’t require as much physical activity are increasingly becoming popular as they’re more convenient and can be done even while indoors, while the second one is that some parents worry that their kids might get injured after playing outside. Despite those two things that are forcing more and more kids to stay indoors, they should be given enough time to play outside for the following reasons:

● Spending some time outdoors gives kids a sense of adventure as they’re free to roam wherever they wish as long as there’s a parent or guardian to watch over them at random intervals.

● Making sure that kids have at least a few hours’ worth of outdoor play teaches kids essential social skills that they’ll need to use more often once they become full-fledged adults themselves.

● Outdoor play also makes kids healthier as exposure to early morning sunlight provides them with the right amount of Vitamin D that they need for their bones to grow strong.

What Are Some Outdoor Fun Ideas That Can Get Kids Moving?

While there might be times when the outside weather isn’t welcoming which can force kids to spend the rest of their day indoors instead, they should spend at least a few hours outdoors whenever the weather would allow them to do so. To make it more fun for them, here are some ideas that can get them moving in no time at all:

1. Go on a kid-friendly nature hike.

Some outdoor hiking trails might not be as safe for kids, but there are others that they can walk across with ease.

● Kids have to wear the right shoes though so that their feet won’t get hurt while they’re crossing uneven terrain.

● At least one adult should accompany the kids so that their safety is ensured, especially as some hiking trails may have slippery rocks and other hazards.

2. Finish an obstacle course.

Even with only a handful of tires, some rope, and a bunch of PVC pipes, an adult can build an obstacle course that kids can attempt to complete.

● A well-designed backyard obstacle course can make kids use both their physical and mental skills as they encounter various hurdles that are sure to challenge their idea of outdoor play.

● A game of running around an obstacle course can even be turned into a contest where the kid who finishes it in the least time gets a reward.

familywalk23. Turn a normal walk outside into a scavenger hunt.

Even something as seemingly simple as taking a walk outside can be turned into a scavenger hunt where kids can play detective as they tick things off of a checklist.

● All that’s needed for the kids to do a scavenger hunt is a sharp eye and the willingness to ask other people in case they’re having trouble finding an item.

● While some of the item descriptions can be made slightly more cryptic for the scavenger hunt to be a bit more challenging, they should remain easy enough for a kid to find.

4. Play a round of ball.

Part of the reason why ball games have grown to become some of the world’s most popular sports is that they can be played outdoors almost everywhere.

● A couple of makeshift goals can be built in an outdoor area so that the kids can play a simple game of soccer.

● A football game outside with the kids can also be played even without any goals by just kicking the ball and passing it around.

As fewer kids spend some time outdoors, their overall health can get compromised as they don’t move around as much. Thus, they would want to drop the video games and smartphones even for a short while and make sure that their parents would allow them at least a few hours of outside play so that they can grow up to become healthy adults themselves.

– Jessica is a professional health expert who works for some major health industry giants. She currently writes for Membersown and is dedicated to helping people learn more about health related topics along the journey. When she’s not a health advocate, she enjoys some down time traveling or talking with family.

Fun Outdoor Activities For The Whole Family

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rollerbladeWith spring in the air, and the last of winter melting away, most of us have warm weather on the brain. And with summer just around the corner, it’s time to start planning those fun activities that get the entire family outdoors and into the spirit of the season. So, if you’re looking for fun, exciting ways to spend time with your family this summer, keep reading for a list of activities designed to keep your brood active, healthy and happy!

Rollerblading

Want to have hilarious outdoor adventures with your family? Give rollerblading a try! This super-fun activity offers cardiovascular benefits that equal those of running, cycling and other intense workouts, but is also amusing, light-hearted and fun for individuals of all ages. Plus, rollerblading can promote balance, endurance and flexibility, and is a great way to introduce kids to sports like hockey, figure skating, etc. So if you’re interested in picking out some rollerblades for summer and getting in on the inline action, check out the following tips for beginners:

• Choose the right skate. In order to provide adequate ankle support, skates should fit snugly. If your skates feel a little loose in the ankle area, try a smaller size or tighten up the laces.

• Protect yourself. Every skater, no matter their skill level, should wear the proper protective gear when rollerblading. Helmets, plus pads for the knees and elbows, are absolute musts.

• Take baby steps. Rollerblading requires a great deal of balance. To build your way up to serious skating, lace up your skates and practice walking in grass or gravel.

• Once you feel comfortable enough to actually skate, look for a flat, smooth surface on which to practice turning, stopping, etc. Go slowly at first, then try your hand at picking up some speed.

Lawn Games

Classic lawn games can be a great way to bring the family, and maybe even the whole neighborhood, together for some outdoor fun and excitement. To make the most of a beautiful day, consider getting your family and friends together for classic outdoor games like the ones listed below. For added fun, host a barbecue or potluck picnic, centered around some friendly competition.

• Croquet.
• Lawn darts.
• Badminton.
• Horseshoes.
• Beanbag toss.

Camping

familyvectorCamping can be a vigorous physical activity, especially when you add in hiking, swimming and other camping-related fun. And while taking the entire family on a camping excursion may seem like a lot of work, the rewards definitely outweigh the effort. Enhance your experience by keeping the following points in mind:

• When it comes to packing, less is more. Remember, your kids will have nature at their disposal, so leave the toys and electronics at home.

• Use rubber storage bins to tote your food, toiletries and other items.

• Don’t forget essentials like flashlights, bug spray, toilet paper, folding chairs, soap, sunscreen, a first aid kit, plates and cups, wet wipes, etc.

• In case of bad weather, bring along a few books, puzzles, or maybe even a board game.

• If possible, choose a spot near a lake, pool or other outdoor attraction. Don’t forget the swimsuits!

• Plan hikes and other activities during your camping trip. One great idea is a nature scavenger hunt. Make a list of things found in nature (e.g., acorns, bugs, specific types of leaves and rocks), and see if each member of your family can find one of each item.

• So as not to tempt the wildlife, never leave food or scraps outside the tent. Likewise for trash and personal items.

Paddle-Boarding

If you spend any time at all near the water, you’ve probably witnessed the latest trend in water sports. Stand-up paddle-boarding, also called stand-up surfing, is quickly becoming a favorite among water lovers of all ages. And with good reason! Paddle-boarding is a lot like surfing; but, as the name suggests, lovers of this sport glide through water with the use of paddles, and typically stick to calmer waters. Benefits include fun in the sun, improved balance, enhanced strength and more. Beginners should heed the following advice:

• When choosing a board and paddles, consult an expert. Factors like height, weight and fitness levels really come into play, so, instead of buying online or from a private seller, visit a reputable shop and make use of the sales staff.

• Before boarding in deep waters or waves, get plenty of practice in calm, shallow waters.

• Safety first! Life jackets are a must.

With the activities listed here, your family is all set for summer fun and excitement. Plus, by staying active, you’ll receive added benefits to health, as well as the advantage of family togetherness. Have fun, and play safe!

Frigid Temps Require Extra Outdoor Caution For Kids

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jogsnowMichigan is in the midst of a very cold winter with temperatures expected to drop even lower in the days to come. Spectrum Health experts warn that now is the time for parents to take extra precautions when sending young children outdoors for any length of time.

Jennifer Hoekstra, Injury Prevention program coordinator with Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, says that parents need to know how to prevent extreme cold weather exposure and be ready to respond appropriately at the first sign of problems.

“Children don’t realize that they can get in trouble very quickly when they are out and about in temperatures that are expected to be way below freezing,” she explains.

Hoekstra offers the following advice:

Clothing

Problems arise when infants and children are not dressed properly. They should be dressed in several thin layers to say warm and dry. Adequate outdoor clothing includes thermal long johns, turtlenecks, at least one shirt, pants, sweater, coat, warm socks, boots, gloves or mittens and a hat.

Hypothermia

Hypothermia develops when a child’s temperature falls below normal due to exposure to cold. It often happens when children are playing outdoors in extremely cold weather without wearing proper clothing or when clothes get wet. As hypothermia sets in, the child may shiver and become lethargic and clumsy. A child’s speech may become slurred and body temperature will decline.

Parents should call 911 immediately if they suspect their child is hypothermic. Until help arrives, they should take the child indoors, remove any wet clothing and wrap him or her in blankets or warm clothes.

Frostbite

Frostbite happens when the skin and outer tissues become frozen. This condition tends to happen on extremities like the fingers, toes, ears and nose. Parents should watch for extremities that may become pale, gray and blistered. The child may complain that their skin burns or has become numb.
If these signs of frostbite occur, parents should:

* Bring the child indoors and place the frostbitten parts of the body in warm water.

* Apply warm washcloths to frostbitten nose, ears and lips.

* Do not rub the frozen areas or use a heating pad.

* After a few minutes, dry and cover the child with clothing or blankets.

* Give the child something warm to drink.

* If the numbness continues for more than a few minutes, call your child’s doctor.

When the temperatures drop as low as are expected next week, “the best advice is to keep your children inside and busy with indoor activities,” says Hoekstra.

– For more information about the Safe Kids program at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, visit www.helendevoschildrens.org/injuryprevention.

Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system, based in West Michigan, offering a full continuum of care through the Spectrum Health Hospital Group, which is comprised of 11 hospitals including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital; 170 ambulatory and service sites; 1,050 advanced practice providers and employed physicians including members of the Spectrum Health Medical Group; and Priority Health, a 537,000-member health plan. Spectrum Health is West Michigan’s largest employer with 20,900 employees. The organization provided $250 million in community benefit during its 2013 fiscal year.

– Submitted by Angela Zito

10 Reasons Outdoor Play Is Crucial To Healthy Child Development

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twokidsunThe iconic image of the idyllic American childhood was, not so long ago, based around the idea of spending long summer days playing outside and exploring the neighborhood until the streetlights were illuminated. Today’s fear-driven culture might make it difficult to send your kids outside for the entirety of a day in good conscience without supervision, but that doesn’t mean that they have to be relegated to a lifetime of staring blankly at a television screen, playing video games or cooped up in a community center to stay safe. When safe, sane practices are adhered to, time spent playing outside is not only fun, but also essential to your child’s healthy development and growth. These are ten of the reasons why you might want to think twice before discouraging outdoor play, and how spending time outside is actually good for your kids.

Honing Motor Skills – Kids need to run, jump, swing and tumble in order to hone their basic motor skills, something that just isn’t as easy to do in the restrictive confines of structured, indoor play. Even if your child isn’t able to safely roam the neighborhood with a group of his friends, he still needs plenty of outdoor time to push himself physically so that he’s able to refine those skills.

Vitamin D Absorption – While it’s imperative that kids are properly protected from the sun’s burning and potentially cancer-causing rays, it’s also important that they get 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure in order to fight off vitamin D deficiency. Unlike vitamin D in supplement form, it’s impossible for a child to naturally produce too much vitamin D in response to sunlight, so letting your child play outside for even a few minutes is typically the best course of action when it comes to combating deficiency.

Encouraging Imaginative Play – Playing with the same set of toys in the same room every day doesn’t give your child much room for imaginative, creative play, which is essential to both cognitive and social development. The great outdoors, however, offers an almost endless array of inspiration for invented games and make-believe scenarios.

kidsunningtogetherAcquiring an Appreciation for Nature – Kids who rarely spend time outdoors grow into adults who generally don’t spend much time outdoors, causing them to effectively miss out on all that nature has to offer. Encouraging play that takes place outdoors allows your child to become accustomed to and gain an appreciation for nature, and no television show or Internet video can replicate that.

Learning the Importance of Environmental Stewardship – The children of today are the stewards of tomorrow’s environment, and they need to learn the importance of caring for the planet from an early age. Get your kids outside and talk about the environment and all the ways that it needs to be protected while enjoying the great outdoors. Before you know it, you’ll have an active, eco-conscious youngster in the making.

Expending Energy – Shouting, climbing, jumping and running aren’t encouraged indoors. In fact, these activities that are so necessary when it comes to expending energy and blowing off steam are usually downright forbidden inside the house. Letting your child burn off some of that energy outside has benefits for both of you, as well as any fragile belongings in your home.

Exploring and Investigating – Kids need to encounter new and interesting things to keep the spark of natural curiosity burning, because that curiosity is an essential part of both creative thinking and a thirst for learning. There’s not much to explore between the couch and the refrigerator, but your own back yard can be a veritable goldmine of activity and wonder.

Pushing Boundaries and Taking Safe Risks – No parent wants their child to engage in risky behavior, but safe risks are an essential part of learning and confidence building. Kids who push their own boundaries by testing their abilities are more confident, more active and less likely to suffer from the low self-esteem that plagues so many of today’s youth.

Reducing Exposure to Germs – There’s a reason why colds and flus seem so abundant in the winter time. When stifled in rooms with little fresh air and relegated to close quarters with others, germs spread from host to host with ease. Outside, airborne bacteria can be swept away on a light breeze, rather than finding a new home in your child’s body.

Fulfilling Kids’ Need for Freedom – As a parent, your first instinct is to keep your child as close and as safe as possible. While it is your job to ensure that no harm comes to them, it’s also important that you allow them enough freedom to explore and assert a bit of independence. Letting your kids roam the lawn, even if it’s fenced in and you’re standing on the porch, or play on the playground while you’re sitting on a nearby bench, can fulfill a bit of that need for freedom that’s so important to their growth and development.

– Submitted by Molly Cunningham of Live In Nanny.