Get Your Kids Out of the House for Their Health's Sake

Posted by Sarah Bennett on July 30, 2015

More and more kids are getting hooked on sitting in front of a screen for most of the day, whether it be their iPhone, laptop, Xbox, or the TV. Sparkspeople estimates  that that kids spend somewhere between 40 to 60 hours per week tied to some screen.

It seems like it is a constant struggle to get our kids to go outside.  I know when we were kids our parents had to beg us to come in from the outside. Today our kids very rarely go out and when they do it is not for just play or fun.  The bad effects from sitting in a chair so long are immense including reduced cognitive development, reduced muscle development and balance, and the most noticeable one, childhood obesity. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social and emotional well-being of children and youth.”
With play being deemed so important, how can we get our kids to go out and play more?  Here are a couple of ideas to help parents do this?  If you live in a house, try to create a backyard that is child friendly and one that they will enjoy going out and playing in. Instead of raking the leaves up right away, leave them down awhile so the kids can play in them. Rake up a big leaf pile and let the kids destroy it. If they are old enough, leave the rake out so they can rebuild it if they want.  I remember as a kid not only did we jump in them but we used to build leaf houses and play in them. Provide some basic tools so the kids can play discovery games. Things such as a shovel, box, and magnifier are some good tools for kids to start with.
Try walking to places that are close enough to get too, like the library. If you go to the park, let the kids choose what to do or what paths to follow. Don’t forget to stay close so no one gets lost or hurt. If you don’t have a backyard, or if it is rainy outside, make sure you give the kids a place in their bedroom, porch or back deck where they can display those things they deem as treasures when they are outside.  

If a there is a local landmark or natural feature you drive past often and your child shows some interest find out more about it and go for a visit. If there is a place to go canoeing, fishing or kayaking in the area take advantage of these places often.

Whatever you do, try to get your kids to spend more time outside and they will be a lot healthier.