It seems as though I’ve been on a family kick recently with my Green Hour posts, both immediate and extended family. Ironically, however, I have also had a lot of conversations recently with parents of children who would rather stay inside and watch other people play sports than actually get outdoors and do something active themselves. In addition to being just plain sad, I also found this both disturbing and odd, especially considering how many nature resources and sports programs are available for kids of all ages these days. It prompted me to research a little further…
It seems like everyone in our culture in this day and age is always busy, whether its working, making appointments, running errands, paying bills, cooking dinner. A lot of people don’t have time (or don’t MAKE time, rather) to get outside and get active, so it’s no wonder our health statistics as a nation are dismal at best. Though we as Americans are free from the majority of infectious diseases and illnesses that run rampant in poorer, less-developed countries, we are anything but the picture of health. Did you know that 2 out of 3 Americans are overweight or obese? Three out of four Americans don’t even meet basic recommendations of activity level, and 1 out of 4 adults lives a completely sedentary lifestyle. And this epidemic is not just affecting adults – obesity rates in children has more than quadrupled in the past 30 years!
If everyone in this country took even baby steps towards an active and healthy lifestyle, the world would quite literally be a different place. But rather than teaching our children to have fun running around outside, we’re teaching them to sit on the couch and play video games. Not that I’m against video games – to call myself a master at Super Mario Bros would be too humble…and in more recent times I’ve been known to kick my fair share of Rock Band booty as well. Everything in moderation, right? So how do we find that balance – because let’s face it, life does get in the way, especially during the busy seasons.
The short answer? To steal from Nike – JUST DO IT! Ok read this first, but then GET OFF THE COUCH!!! Go outside. Do something (anything!) active as a family. Whether its a bike ride, a walk around the neighborhood, or playing hide and seek in the backyard, spend some quality “action” time together. And if the scary statistics above weren’t motivation enough, here’s more reasons why you should…
1. QUALITY TIME - Working out as a family is a great way to catch up on the day’s activities. Our family likes to take a spin around the neighborhood with the jogging stroller on days we aren’t at the climbing gym – it not only gives us an opportunity to recap to each other about our day, but also makes the run go by faster since we’re talking through it.
2. TIME SAVER – If we all go together on a jog or a bike ride, it takes about 45 minutes to an hour. That’s a lot less time than it would take for us to take turns watching C while the other parent drove to the gym and rushed through a workout. Not only will working out together prove to be a timesaver, but it will also free up more time in the evening for family time.
3. GOOD ROLE MODELS – Kids by nature are active and into everything. But older children can be tempted to get lazy and stay inside just like adults, especially if they see mom and dad laying around on the couch. How can you expect your child to adopt a healthy, active lifestyle – practice what you preach, and let them SEE you doing it!
4. IT’S GOOD FOR YOU – The benefits of consistent, regular physical activity are certainly no secret. Active people are healthier and happier than their couch-potato counterparts.
5. IT’S GOOD FOR EVERYONE – Exercise is not just good for adults. According to the CDC, children over the age of 6 should participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
Regardless of how you squeeze it into your routine, you are doing your family a big favor when you make time to enjoy the outdoors together, by setting your child up for a lifetime of healthy living and appreciation of the natural world. What are some ways that you teach your kids the value of getting off the couch?