Prying children away from electronics and the comforts of the indoors can be a challenge, but outside time is good for kids in a variety of ways including improved mood, increased physical activity, and heightened mental stimulation. To help you get the kids off the couch to reap these health benefits, the health experts at Envolve, an integrated healthcare solutions company, have put together five cost-free ways to entertain kids outdoors.
1. Water Play. Getting kids outside when it’s hot has its own set of hurdles. After you sunscreen up, incorporating water into your outdoor play encourages kids to get active and gives you a new way to combat that frequent claim of summer boredom. An inflatable pool is a great way to stay cool and swimming helps kids build strength and coordination. Hook up a sprinkler, stage a water balloon fight with the neighbor kids, or even wash the car!
2. Park Party! Going to a neighborhood or public park is a great way to give your kids a change of scenery. Parks encourage children to interact with each other, developing their socialization skills. It also gives them access to items that encourage physical activity they may not have at home, like swings, climbing walls, and jogging paths.
3. Bike Ride. Biking is a great way to get kids (and yourself!) physically active. The health benefits of biking range from heart health through aerobic and cardio exercise, improved balance, and development of strength and muscle tone. Take a ride as a family in the morning or evening when it’s cooler, or opt out of taking the car to the park or local eatery and take the bikes instead. Look up some local bike trails near you to keep things interesting.
4. Exterior Eating. It is recommended that kids spend three hours a day outdoors – put don’t forget to apply broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen. Even with proper sun protection, they’ll still get the benefits of soaking in some vitamin D. Being in nature and playing outdoors has been shown to encourage cognitive development, independent thinking, and reasoning skills. Something as simple as having a meal outdoors can make a lasting impression. Pack a picnic and do lunch at the park, or simply eat meals on the patio when the weather is nice.
5. Bring Favorites. Just because it’s stored indoors doesn’t mean it has to stay there! Bring some of your kids’ favorite things outside. Art easels, cars, puzzles, and books can all be easily transferred from one place to another. Leave the electronic devices inside and switch between relaxing activities and physical activities to diversify your day. Research suggests that fresh air and sunshine can help improve sleep and academic performance in children.