Featured Article: Unplug With 7 Outdoor Kid Activities
Moms and dads, grandparents and educators: How do our children grow? Unfortunately, most kids today are growing with a heavy dose of electronics.
In the last two decades, kids have been spending more and more time indoors, with as little as 30 minutes of outdoor playtime. Currently, the average American child spends more than 5 hours a day in front of a screen — be it TV, iPod, smart phone or tablet.
“When we stay inside, we tend to sit and don’t use as much energy,” says Chelsea Wicks, MD, Pediatrician at Renown Medical Group Pediatrics. “It is important even for the youngest of children to get regular physical activity every day to help with metabolism, heart health, and mental well being.”
Needless to say, the shift to inside activities is impacting the wellness of children. Childhood obesity rates have more than doubled over the past 30 years, children’s stress levels are higher than ever and depression among youngsters is becoming more prevalent.
“By starting young, you also are instilling in your child ways they can interact with nature and hopefully try to understand it and preserve it as they get older,” says Dr. Wicks. “You can do this by making outdoor activities part of your daily routine starting at infancy.”
Of course, these outcomes are not inevitable — you can reverse the trend. How, you might ask? By taking playtime outdoors!
When the weather is sunny and warm, there’s an abundance of activities you and your children can experience together. And outdoor activities can also encourage a healthy lifestyle and provide great learning experiences for everyone in the family.
If you need a little inspiration, try one, or all, of these seven activities for outdoor adventure:
1. Plan your fun
Make time each weekend to go outside — plan a picnic, take a bike ride or find a new hiking trail. Next, add weekday activities like throwing a baseball around, taking the dog for a walk or teaching the kids to roller skate.
2. Grow a green thumb
Start a garden with your kids. Together plant some simple veggies like radishes, tomatoes and squash. Producing their own food teaches kids responsibility, dedication and the value of hard work while instilling in them a sense of ownership. And studies show that grade-schoolers who grow plants score higher on academic tests.
3. Embrace the animal kingdom
Add some bright flowers to your garden to attract caterpillars and butterflies, and teach your kids about the life cycle of the butterfly. Or volunteer at a local animal shelter to walk dogs or dote on cats. Your kids will get some exercise along with learning to explore the world around them.
4. Sleep and learn under the stars
Learn about stars and planets away from the city lights. Grab a tent, sleeping bags and a star chart and head to your favorite camping spot to enjoy an open view of the night sky. Help your kids identify constellations, stars and galaxies. Don’t forget the marshmallows and the telescope.
5. Become your own detective
Create your own scavenger hunt. Before hiking your favorite trail or biking around town, write down what your kids would expect to see while out and about — anything from types of flowers to wildlife to architecture and historical landmarks. See how many things you can cross off your list.
6. Build a kite and let it fly
Building a kite can be a great artistic and bonding experience with your kids. Let them pick out some fun, colorful wrapping paper, and have light wooden rods and other craft materials on hand. Wait for the perfect sunny, windy day and let your kites fly!
7. Bring out the artist within
Instead of coloring at the kitchen table in the same old coloring books, take your kids outside and let the pavement be their canvas. Have a family Do-It-Yourself day beforehand and get your hands dirty by making your own chalk. Take to the driveway and sidewalks and bring out their inner artist.
Our health and wellness blog, BestMEDICINE, has various articles, tips and infographics to help your kids learn valuable health information. A healthy kid is a happy kid.
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