Thursday, July 4, 2013

Have an Active Summer!

Summer days, evenings and weekends were made for active fun… so start planning… and start enjoying!
It’s easy to keep it simple at this time of year. At our house, slipping on running shoes, slapping on some sunscreen, packing a water bottle, and venturing outdoors is all it takes.

Active play is important too — it makes kids happier, healthier and smarter. But did you know that the proportion of Canadian kids who play outside after school dropped 14 per cent over the last decade? And that’s not all: Active Healthy Kids Canada shared in 2012 that Children and youth are not getting enough active play – especially outdoors. Forty-six per cent of kids are getting three hours or less of active play per week, including weekends. We can and must do better. Our kids need and deserve it.

Here are some of the simple summer activities my family enjoys most:

Walk: We enjoy long walks with our golden retriever after dinner, often enjoying chats with friends and neighbours along the way, and on occasion, heading for gelato or ice cream.

Hiking: Plan an invigorating hike at a local park, provincial or territorial park, or a favourite spot near you. Why not take along a picnic lunch and make a day of it?

Cycling: A ride around the block may be enough for little ones but evenings and weekends provide a perfect opportunity to enjoy longer rides with older children.

Gardening: If your idea of a good time is time spent in your own backyard, you’re not alone. Mow the lawn, trim the hedge, plant some flowers, dig a new bed, water the lawn, do some weeding… and then sit back with a tall, cool drink to enjoy the view.

Swimming: Enjoy a swim at the local pool or take a dip in a river, lake or if you’re lucky and live close enough, the ocean. Remember the risk of injury and drowning is very real. Please put safety first.

Water-based activities: Take advantage of other water-based activities like canoeing, stand up paddle boarding, windsurfing, or kayaking – be sure to introduce kids and teens to a variety of activities.

Tennis: Head to your local tennis courts (early morning or evening is usually best on a hot day) and enjoy a rally with friends or family. I play tennis several times a week at this time of year and though I always hope to improve my game, it’s the fun that has me hooked. My youngest daughter takes lessons we make a point of hitting the courts a few times a week to practice together.

Fly a kite: Head to an open field or park and let that kite soar! Every time I fly a kite with my kids, it takes me back to my own happy childhood and the carefree summer days we filled with play.

Farmer’s markets: Visit a nearby farmer’s market to pick up fresh local produce. Better yet, bike to the market for some additional physical activity and fill your basket, panier or backpack with fresh produce, herbs and flowers.Take in a game in your community: Why not take the kids to watch a soccer, rugby, or sports event in your community? Make it active for all by walking, cycling, or using another means of active transportation to get there.

Playgrounds: When my kids were younger, we went to a local playground just about every day, often after dinner. Sadly, all too often, we were the only family there. From first swings and unsteady trips down the slide, to hanging upside down from the monkey bars and games of tag, local parks are a great place from families to enjoy active fun together. Invite some friends to join you!

Mini golf: An after-dinner game or two of mini golf, whether on vacation or not, is a great way to do away with screen time and get the family outdoors for some summer fun.

Make it a summer to remember with lots of active outdoor fun — and share your favourite ways to play with us on Facebook and on Twitter.  

Happy Summer!

Catherine Cameron
Ambassador, Active Living

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