/ by UK HealthCare
The most challenging part of your summer might be convincing your kids to put down their phones or their video game controllers. Encouraging outdoor activity will not only get your kids to give their electronics a rest, but also promotes fun, healthy habits.
Exercise should be a vital part of your kids’ routine. Children who exercise for an hour every day are at a lower risk for obesity, and being active can boost a child’s self-esteem and can make them happier. Additionally, studies show that physical activity and brain development go hand-in-hand.
Here are some activities that can get your kid off the couch and outside.
1. Check your local Parks and Recreation website for a list of activities.
Many departments will host kid-friendly events and camps throughout the summertime. Participating in an activity that gets your heart rate up can help prevent heart disease and hypertension.
2. Plant a garden.
Enlist your kid’s help to grow a garden in your backyard. Summer is a good time to grow vegetables such as tomatoes, squash, peppers and snap beans. Not only will your child be inspired to eat the food that they are growing, but the act of gardening itself can help develop motor skills and build strength.
3. Host a picnic.
Grab your lunch box and take your meal out to the park where your kids can run around before chowing down. Include foods from each of the food groups, such as fresh fruit, vegetable sticks and yogurt.
4. Cool down with the sprinkler.
Put a fun twist on favorite children’s games such as ring around the rosie or freeze tag by playing them around a sprinkler. Aerobic activity like this has been shown to increase the size of essential brain structures.
5. Decorate your driveway with sidewalk chalk.
Unleash your child’s artistic side by transforming your driveway into a canvas. Don’t forget about classic games like hopscotch and four square that you can easily draw.
6. Plan a scavenger hunt.
Whether you’re out on a hike or just in your backyard, send your kid on a hunt to find certain items, such as a dandelion, a four-leaf clover or a lady bug. This type of activity requires using different senses and can help develop skills that make physical activity enjoyable later in life.
7. Make leaf prints.
Find leaves of various shapes and sizes. Then, paint the surface of the leaf and gently flip the painted side onto a piece of paper. Voila, you have something new to hang on the fridge.
8. Catch fireflies.
Watch for the telltale flashes of the lightning bug, and move quickly to capture them in a net or jar. Make sure your jar has small holes in the lid to let in air, but you should release the insects back the next night. Running around to catch the fireflies releases endorphins, which can help improve mental focus and cognitive skills in your child.
9. Camp in your backyard.
Pretend you’re in Yellowstone National Park by pitching a tent and rolling out your sleeping bag. No camping experience would be complete without building a fire or lighting up the grill to roast marshmallows for s’mores.