Go Fly a Kite! Active Family Outings for Kids

Go Fly a Kite! Active Family Outings for Kids

Worried your kids are spending too much time indoors? Here are some ideas for getting them off the couch and back outside.

By Gregg Newby, Staff Writer, myOptumHealth

If you're like many parents, you may worry about whether your children are getting enough exercise. It's a common problem, given the hectic schedules many families have.

If you really want to help your kids stay in shape, you need to keep them active, and one of the best ways to do that is with family outings. Outings get kids off the couch and away from the video games and give them a chance to burn off excess calories. They can also help strengthen family ties. You can use the time together to see new places, try new things and enjoy each other's company.

Get going with active outings
An outing doesn't have to be elaborate. Even a visit to a local playground or 9 holes of goofy golf can be productive. But if you're having trouble thinking of things to do, here are some ideas to help you get started.

Start walking. An early evening stroll together can be one way to get the family moving. But if you want to kick it up a notch, spend a weekend morning hiking a local forest trail. Introduce your kids to nature and let them enjoy the great outdoors. And if you have access to a nearby zoo, take them for a visit every now and then. It's one of the best walking experiences there is.

Make a splash! Kids naturally love to play in the water. So hit the beach or visit a nearby water park. If you don't have a pool of your own, see if there's one at the local gym or community center. For older kids, go for a day of canoeing or rowing on a local stream or river. Who knows what you'll discover along the way?

Get a set of wheels. Oil up your chains and adjust the bicycle seats. Get your kids out of the house by taking them on a morning bike ride. Local biking trails are preferable because they're usually away from traffic. But no matter where you go riding, make sure everyone has a helmet on. It's the best way to ensure their safety. And depending on where you live, it may even be the law.

Introduce them to exercise. Hit the city park with your kids and encourage them to walk the track once or twice. Show them some basic conditioning exercises, such as jumping jacks or push-ups, and explain to them why fitness is important.

Be sure to make it fun
Remember to keep it fun. Bring along some sports gear and have an impromptu game of kickball or volleyball. Even a game of freeze-tag will help them burn calories. Just don't be too pushy. They are kids, after all.

Put safety first
Whatever you choose to do, keep in mind that safety always comes first. Among other things, make sure that:

  • Bicycle helmets are worn at all times when riding a bike
  • Kids are closely supervised in or near the water
  • Life jackets are worn during all boating activities
  • You bring water and sunscreen to prevent dehydration and sunburn
  • The group stays together so no one gets lost or injured

Every activity is different. So, depending on what you choose to do, there may be additional safety concerns. Always do your research before heading out. Then be sure that everyone knows the rules.

And remember, staying active requires ongoing commitment. If you want to instill healthy habits, you'll need to plan new activities on a regular basis. Sit down with your kids and find out what they enjoy doing most. Then get out the calendar and set a date. That way, there's always something to look forward to.

Sources:

  • Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness and Council on School Health. Active healthy living: Prevention of childhood obesity through increased physical activity. Pediatrics. 2006;117(5):1834-1842.
  • President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Get fit and be active! A handbook for youths aged 6-17. Accessed: 08/12/2010
  • National Heart Blood and Lung Institute. Tips for getting active. Accessed: 08/12/2010
  • Task Force on Childhood Obesity. Make physical activity a part of your family's routine. Accessed: 08/12/2010
  • American Academy of Pediatrics. Physical activity: Make the right choice for your child. Accessed: 08/12/2010
  • National Heart Blood and Lung Institute. Make family time active time. Accessed: 08/12/2010

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