Exercise and the Great Outdoors
How Moms and Their Children Can Stay Fit Outside in a Busy World
A vast majority of moms want to maintain a healthy lifestyle through a regimented wellness program, but their time is limited. Once a mom starts juggling so many obligations, exercise, sadly, gets a low priority on her "to do" list. At the same time, they want to get their children involved in physical activities since so many of our youth have developed a sedentary lifestyle. So, how does a mom satisfy and balance all her needs?
Fear not, as all of us share one common 'workout' gym- The Great Outdoors- and there are no month fees to join.
Going outside with your children is a very positive and rewarding experience, while also being beneficial to a child's normal growth and development. Many parents are now taking the "lead by example" approach with regards to playing in the great outdoors with their children. Olympic gold medalist and mother, Shannon Miller, agrees, saying, "Vitamin D and fresh air are always a plus when you play outside with your children. Getting outdoors is a good way to vary the terrain and try new things. There are endless games and activities that you can enjoy to keep it fresh and exciting. In addition, outdoor play is typically very inexpensive. Hiking, biking, swimming, or even morning yoga is a perfect way to squeeze in exercise without making it feel like work."
Parents are so influential in the health of their children.
If a parent leads a sedentary lifestyle, this is what the child sees as the "norm." If a parent is active outside on a regular basis, going for walks or hikes, then a child sees this as the standard. In the latter scenario, both parent and child will benefit performing activities together outside that promote physical activity. Sadly, playing outside is slowly becoming a lost art for for kids for many reasons:
- Parents want their kids supervised 24/7 for safety
- Technology is becoming a child's number one choice for play
- Too much homework to finish
- Social responsibilities
- Lack of outside "play creativity"
- Weather/climate issues
A parent that successfully gets their child outside on a regular basis is teaching their child a valuable lesson about a healthy lifestyle, and creative positive, lifetime habits that will carry on well into adulthood.
The Benefits of Outdoor Play
Countless individuals do not understand the value of playing outside. In fact, the EPA estimates that most Americans spend an average of 90% or greater of their time indoors. In our busy world, getting outside sometimes gets pushed to the curb. Tina Vindum, the author of "Outdoor Fitness- Step Out of the Gym and into the Best Shape of Your Life," suggests some great health advantages to exercising outside.
- Learn a new degree of body/mind awareness by using a variety of movement patterns over varied terrain- building muscle, burning fat, and increasing joint stability.
- Be truly in the company of Mother Nature, where all your senses come alive; leaving you feeling refreshed, invigorated, and motivated.
- Lose more body fat on colder days- Outdoor Fitness enables people to use up to 12% more calories and burn up to 32% more fat than a typical indoor workout.
- Nature-based exercise not only builds physical fitness, but also strengthens our senses, our intellectual capacity, and our emotional health.
- Mood elevation and stress relief that leaves you feeling alert, refreshed, and alive through the intake of fresh air and natural light- called the "Biophilia Effect."
- Spending time in greenery and forests increases the production of Natural Killer Cells- anti cancer proteins. Studies show that this boost can last 7-30 days.
The most important thing: just get your kids outside and play with them whenever you get the time. The benefits will lead the way to a healthier lifestyle for your children.
Activities Parents and Children Can Do Outside:
Playing with your children outside helps them develop physically, mentally, and socially. Many of those activities you used to do as a child still work today. A little creativity can take you a long way. Personal trainer Nicole Palacios gives these suggested activities for you and your child while playing outside.
Running- Place your young child in a stroller and job, or if they are bigger, have them run alongside you at the park or playground. Make a game out of it if the child is too old to go running the stroller. Catch, chase, tag, etc. Everyone gets their exercise!
Obstacle courses- Step up an obstacle course in your home yard or outdoors at a park. Run, jump, crawl, and go over and under.
Outdoor baby or toddler fit exercise class- Mom works out for her needs, child gets to spend time with mom and interact with other babies/toddlers.
Hiking- Hike with your baby in a backpack or have your toddler/child hiking with you. Take in nature and make a scavenger hunt where you look for certain nature items along the way. Enter your zip code in NatureFind to find great outdoor places near you.
Go Geocaching- If your kids are 6 or older, kick up the hike a notch with Ranger Rick's Geocache Trails, an outdoor treasure hunt using GPS technology to find items hidden in the great outdoors.
Pick-up sports- Playing soccer, badminton, hockey; whatever you enjoy doing with your kids that takes you outside.
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Get Outdoors with Your Family