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Think Outside the Sandbox: Creative Ways to Keep Kids Active

Everyone needs regular physical activity to maintain good health. Adults often understand the importance of exercise, so they work to incorporate physical activity into their daily schedules. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released a recommendation for children and teenagers stating that young people should participate in at least one hour of physical activity every day. Kids may not realize how vital exercise is for health. However, children usually enjoy active play both indoors and outdoors. This innate desire for physical activity makes it easy to encourage kids to stay active during every season of the year.

Why Do Kids Need to Be Active?

  • Daily physical activity helps children stay fit and avoid obesity.
  • Children who exercise regularly will have stronger bones, joints, and muscles.
  • Regular physical activity helps kids become more agile and coordinated. Active children usually have stronger gross motor skills.
  • When children exercise every day, they often sleep better at night.
  • Active children usually perform better academically, and they have more regular school attendance. The endorphins released during exercise may help children with concentration, which can enhance their cognitive skills.
  • Children who exercise regularly may delay or prevent the onset of some chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.
  • Active kids often feel better about themselves.
  • It's common for active children to experience less depression and anxiety. Kids who struggle with mood swings may find it easier to control their emotions when they are physically active.
  • Kids who participate in regular cardiovascular activities tend to have healthier lungs and a stronger heart. Even children can have health issues such as high blood pressure, but exercise often helps prevent these problems.
  • Active children are stronger, which can help them avoid injuries.
  • When kids run, jump, and play actively every day, they often feel like they are conquering new and exciting challenges.

Suggestions for Enjoyable Activities

  • Take family walks around the neighborhood. If you have a dog, get outside to walk the dog every day.
  • Visit parks in your local area to get exercise. Parks often have woodsy trails that are exciting to explore.
  • Begin a bird-watching expedition to record the birds you see. As you are outdoors looking for birds, you will be actively walking.
  • Try rollerskating for an invigorating activity. Ensure that everyone rollerskating has the proper safety gear, including helmets, elbow and knee pads, and wrist guards.
  • Go to the park and throw a ball or Frisbee back and forth.
  • Play tag or hide-and-seek with friends or family members.
  • Find an organized sports team for children to join. Baseball, softball, soccer, and basketball are just a few options.
  • Visit a pool or a lake to swim. Ensure that children have adequate adult supervision at all times when swimming.
  • Go for a family bike ride. Always insist that all bicyclists wear bike helmets.
  • Have a race to see who can run between two points the fastest.
  • Visit a hill in the winter with sleds. Sledding down the hill will be invigorating, and hiking back up again will burn energy.
  • Take a walk in the snow. Walk with snowshoes if the snow is fresh and deep.
  • Build a snow fort or a snowman. Have a good-natured snowball fight.
  • Shovel snow as a family to clear the driveway and sidewalks after a snowstorm.
  • Ice-skate either indoors or outdoors. Ice-skating takes practice, which will help develop gross motor skills.
  • Go cross-country skiing in fresh snow. Parks and golf courses are ideal places for cross-country skiing.
  • Play an informal game of ice hockey with a team of friends.
  • Go on a scavenger hunt to find various items outdoors.
  • Play upbeat music and dance to the lively beat.
  • Try strength-building exercises such as push-ups, sit-ups, squats, and planking. Encourage kids to use proper form as they do the exercises, and have them try to add more repetitions as they get stronger.
  • Exercise with a workout video.
  • Visit the mall to walk on days when the outdoor weather is too cold, too hot, or rainy.
  • Join a gym as a family. Choose a facility that offers classes, equipment, and activities especially for children.