At the end of a long work day, all you want to do is get the kids fed, bathed and in bed at a decent hour. But, as you hand out the dinner plates, your kids begin to ask if they can go play outside after dinner. While your first thought might be to tell them it’s too late in the day to be heading outdoors, you might want to reconsider. There actually might be a link between fresh air and healthier kids.
According to Livestrong.com, getting fresh air not only helps children attain the recommended dose of vitamin D, but it could also help lower their risk of developing cancer later in life. And playing outside for an hour a day, will also keep childhood obesity at bay.
But, there are also mental health benefits. Children who had more outside time actually had longer attention spans and lower rates of hyperactivity.
Letting the kids play out in the backyard is great, but what if you don’t have a place for your kids to run around outside? Local parks and nature areas are a great way to take advantage of the fresh air and sunlight without spending any money.
Here are a few activities you might want to try.
Go for a bike ride or a walk down a local nature trail
These cost-free trails not only give your family the chance to dust off the bikes that have been taking up space in the garage, or those running shoes that are collecting dust in the back of the closet, but it will also give you a chance to enjoy some of the natural beauty around you.
Many of these trails wind through areas of cities and towns that are untouched by housing developments and strip malls. Make a list of the plants and animals in your area, and have your children check them off as they spot them.
Go on a picnic
Instead of slaving over a hot stove as soon as you get home from work, slap together a few sandwiches, grab a bowl of fruit, and have dinner outside. You can find picnic tables in most local parks, but if you can’t find a table, just grab an old blanket and set up your feast. The kids will be so delighted that they are on an outing that they won’t even fight over who sits where on the picnic blanket.
Take advantage of local waterways
If you have more than just an hour after dinner, then you can try taking your family down to the local waterway and enjoy a day of fishing, kayaking or tubing. If you’d rather not get in the water, try walking along the river or lake and enjoy the beauty of the setting.
While there are many opportunities for fun and recreation at local parks and waterways, your kids don’t need a day of activities to enjoy the outdoors. Playing catch or hunting for bugs can be just as fulfilling. Just get them outdoors and connect as a family.Back To Top
Jessa is the Editor-in-Chief of Hooray for Family and the mom of three energetic children. She has a BA in Mass Communication/Journalism from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, and is a long-time resident of Central Texas. When she isn't writing and editing, she enjoys playing board games with her kids, teaching Sunday school and channeling her creativity into craft projects.