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Beyond the Playground: Outdoor Activities for Kids

Today, there are plenty of things that kids can do while spending time indoors. Many of these activities, such as video games, are sedentary or require minimum physical effort. Unfortunately, they also often keep children busy for hours and, as a result, decreases their desire to go outdoors for playtime in the sun. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), children require at least sixty minutes of physical activity a day to remain healthy and fit. A child who spends the majority of his or her time on computers or video games often isn't meeting that requirement.

For good physical health, parents should encourage their children to put down the controllers and spend more time outside of the home. The key is for parents to make playing outside a fun and rewarding experience that kids will anticipate and enjoy, as much as their indoor game play or television programs. This doesn't mean that television and computers should be taken away completely. In fact, some experts even suggest making indoor activities a reward for time spent outdoors.

The types of activities that kids enjoy will vary depending on the child and his or her age. Younger children may enjoy taking walks with their parents around the neighborhood or walking the family pet. Visits to the local area parks also provide hours of outdoor activity for the whole family. This not only gets kids out of the house, but also provides valuable bonding time between parents and their children. Older kids may also enjoy trips to the park with their parents, but instead of walking, skating or biking is a fun option. Parks are a good location for throwing a Frisbee or playing catch. Other activities that can be enjoyed as a family include camping or hiking trips. These trips are not only physically challenging, but kids can also learn about nature and survival skills. On the weekends when parents are off from work, families may also choose to learn something new, such as learning how to ride a horse. During the summer, a trip to a nearby beach provides a day's worth of active fun and playtime for the whole family, regardless of age.

Although spending time together as a family is fun, it isn't always possible due to work obligations, and older kids will want to be more independent and have time alone with their friends. Some areas have skateboarding parks where teens can spend time with their peers and have fun in a health environment. Kids may also participate in extra-curricular sports activities, such as basketball, football, or softball. When joining a team these activities will consume a large portion of the teen's time and will further limit indoor game playing. Even younger children may join sports teams, which not only promote good physical fitness, but also teamwork and sportsmanship. Children and teenagers may also go to summer camps, which teach valuable skills while also providing plenty of outdoors activity.

Kids don't have to leave their neighborhood in order to enjoy the outdoors. There are numerous games that kids can play right in their own driveway or yard with other children in the area. Young kids enjoy activities, such as jumping rope or hopscotch. If there is room in one's backyard, kids enjoy games that allow them to run, such as tag or relay games.

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Find more about the author: Kim Hart