Spring into Summer with your family
Contribution by Ellen Schappert, BC Children's Hospital Foundation
April's showers gave way to May flowers; the days are longer and the thermometer's on the upswing. Yesterday, I watched a dad from my building playing catch with his daughter. That got me thinking: now that summer's well on the way, what better time to head outside with your kids?
Few things in life cost as little - especially when you consider the long-term benefits - or are as much fun as getting your children hooked on regular exercise. Better still, the newfound activity will be a welcome outlet for all that extra energy they have.
The ABC's of Activity
Making exercise a regular part of your family's life doesn't need to be complicated or expensive. Here are some simple suggestions to get you started:
"¢ If you have pre-schoolers, walk with them to daycare or pre-kindergarten. Better still, join forces with other parents in the area: you'll meet new people and can take turns taking the little ones.
"¢ Make a bee-line for the nearest playground, where your youngsters can run around to their hearts' content. Arrange to meet your friends and their children there, making it an enjoyable social outing for everyone.
"¢ Instead of standing on the escalator in the mall or riding the elevator together, walk upstairs. (If it's a long haul, ride up a few flights, then take the stairs.)
"¢ If your kids love to watch tv or are suckers for computer games, help them find active habits to balance these sedentary pleasures. There's even a popular category of games - think Dance Dance Revolution - where motion is the name of the game
"¢ Encourage older children to walk or bike to school, friends' houses, the library and after-school activities. Bonus
: they'll soon be able to get themselves from point A to point B without you. Watch this video to find out what kids like about walking to school: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r59_rzKuAMA
"¢ Sign up early for next year's ChildRun
, BC Children's Hospital Foundation's family-friendly 5 and 10-K race.
"¢ Teach your children to dress for the weather and encourage them to get outside, where every season has its charms, from puddle-jumping in June to tobogganing in January.
"¢ Plan an active summer vacation. If you're camping, try canoeing and hiking. Visiting a big city? Sightsee on foot. At the lake, your kids can try out water sports, make sand castles and play Frisbee with their newfound friends.
"¢ Need a change of place or pace? Take your family on a field trip. Visit a nature centre, collect autumn leaves or admire old houses in an historic neighbourhood.
"¢ As your children get older, ask them to help you do chores that get them moving, from taking the dog for a walk to gardening, vacuuming, raking leaves, mowing the lawn, washing the car"¦ you get the picture.
A word to the wise: Although they might not admit it, your kids are influenced by you.
If you like getting out and about and make activity a natural and enjoyable part of family life, chances are that your youngsters will follow suit as they grow up. And if you'd like them to keep tv watching and gaming to a minimum, make sure that you do, too!
ParticipACTION has more great fitness advice
for you and your family.
We'd like to know
"¦ Tell us
about a favourite memory you have of an active outing with your family.