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Family Fun and Fitness: Parks and Rec

5 Ways to Get Active Outdoors

The sun is shining, the weather’s warm and your family may be more than a little stir crazy. From your own backyard to the neighborhood tennis courts, there are many fun, family-friendly ways to enjoy the wonderful weather and get exercise at the same time. Building healthy fitness habits as a family can help lower the risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. And when you raise your heart rate outside, you get the added mental benefits of enjoying nature, sunlight and fresh air.

So gather your family and get active outdoors. Just don’t forget the sunscreen, insect repellant and water bottles!

1. Yard Games and Gardening

The first step to getting your family active can be as easy as stepping into your own yard. Hide and seek, tag and catch are just the tip of the yard-game iceberg for kids and adults alike. And since it’s literally in your back yard, children can let off all that energy with a little independence while you do your own work out like yoga or gardening.

Speaking of yard work, turn tackling all the overgrowth into an opportunity to work together as a family. You’ll be surprised what a workout gardening can be! Divide and conquer with weeding, mulching, shoveling, raking and planting. Watering your garden and mowing the lawn regularly are also chores that can keep you fit throughout the seasons.

2. Get Out and About

Go for after-dinner walks around the neighborhood for 20 to 30 minutes or visit a local park to do the same. Backpacking and hiking are also great ways to up the action. A picnic lunch at a scenic spot can offer a nice goal and midway check point for the family to rally around and work toward.

3. Work Out On Wheels

If you or your kids get a bit bored on a walk, add some excitement – not to mention increased exercise – when you bike, roller skate or skateboard instead. Remember to outfit the family with helmets, kneepads and elbow pads before jumping on wheels. Don’t let an injury sideline you with summer so close!

4. Play a Game of Pick-Up

A loose game of soccer, volleyball or basketball can provide a fun source of cardio for the whole family – and even offer some bragging rights with new skills! Set up a badminton net in your back yard for something quick and easy, or take a trip to tennis courts to practice your forehand, backhand and volleys. Playing sports together also allows you to teach your child good sportsmanship skills they can apply to teamwork at school.

5. Map it Out

If you’re looking for a fun family activity that builds fitness and a little bit of brainpower too, consider orienteering. You’ll do your fair share of walking, climbing and exploring, and your children can learn about maps, following directions and reading a compass.

For the tech-inclined, geocaching offers similar action and adventure using GPS.