HEALTHY DIRECTIONS July 2017: The Importance of Outdoor Play

Kids need outdoor play and summertime sunshine. Make family fun days active. Stop texting! Hide the tablet! Turn off the television! It’s as simple as that!

According to the Government of Canada, obesity rates among children have tripled in the last thirty years. The most negative impact of a sedentary lifestyle is the increased risk of health conditions. Once considered adult issues, the number of kids with elevated blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and even fatty liver disease are on the rise.

To keep children safe and improve grades, we are raising a generation of tech savvy sofa sitters. Almost one third of Canadian children ranging from 5-17 are overweight or obese according to Statistics Canada. Let’s get kids counting jumping jacks not calories. Time to get tough! Love your kids into a healthy fit future. From toddler to teen, aim for at least 60 minutes exercise daily. Start early! Baby bond on the hiking trail using a back pack or sling. As children grow, invest in a running stroller followed by bike with trailer.

Children Live What They Learn!
Slather on the sunscreen. Destination playground. It’s a hub of social activity. Making friends, working out differences, sharing, respect and patience are all learned through interactions. Face to face networking for the future starts early.
Playing outdoors connects children with their creative side. Climbing, swinging and building sand castles breed future writers and architects.

Exercising Outdoors Stimulates all Five Senses. See the vibrant green. Smell fresh cut grass.  Feel the difference between gritty sand and squishy mud. Listen to birds sing. Taste? Yes, even taste the outdoor play experience. Eating a bug by accident is inevitable!

Outdoor fun increases even a pint sized heart rate, pumping oxygen rich blood and nutrients throughout their bodies.
Big smiles mean increased seratonin, better known as the happiness hormone. Nothing can match fresh air for a drama free bedtime and peaceful night sleep.

Exercise Diminishes Stress
Healthy physically fit kids tend to be confident and secure. In a world of social media and cyberbullying, exercise can help build positive body image based on more than the number of likes.

Play Time Equals Exercise
Three key components of building physically fit bodies can happen outdoors! Strength training builds muscle. Great news for kids with a weight problem. Muscle tissue burns more calories than fat even at rest. Weight bearing exercises build and maintain strong bones. Walls, ropes, stairs and monkey bars are kid’s obstacle courses! No gym equipment required. Swinging across monkey bars and chin ups are great for developing upper body strength.

Aerobic training strengthens our most important muscle….heart. Childhood favorites like jump rope, hop scotch and tag set the vibe for future organized summer sports.

Flexibility is another perk of outdoor active play. Reaching and bending increases range of motion and reduces muscle soreness. It’s also beneficial in minimizing injuries for those in competitive sports.

Outdoor play is a priceless opportunity to allow kids the freedom to express themselves. Fresh air fun builds a strong body, engaging mind and spirit to take on future challenges. Don’t forget to pack lots of water and healthy snacks. See you outside!

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Mercedes Kay Gold is a Mobile Personal Trainer and Certified Nutritional Practitioner. Her writing has been featured in various publications and has appeared on Daytime with Jacqueline Betterton. She spends her spare time blogging all things healthy and enjoying time with her sons. Check out Mercedes on the Coconut Festival’s main stage, August 27 in Toronto.