Summertime is the perfect time to get the whole family outdoors and try out some new activities. Many parents and kids end up being quite sedentary over the winter months, but once the temperatures start to rise and the sun is out, it's easier to get outside for some fun. Embracing the outdoors does wonders for one's physical health, but there are immense mental health benefits as well.
Getting outdoors as a family provides numerous benefits
As the weather warms up, many families head out to bike or walk around the neighborhood, head to the park, or play hoops in the driveway. While it is tempting to send the kids out to play on their own, parents who join their children for some family activities stand to gain a lot. Not only is this a great opportunity to bond, and getting outside is great to model for your kids, but you as a parent will see significant benefits as well.
Getting active outside is a great way to shed some pounds and improve your fitness level, but there are psychological benefits too. Both getting outdoors and exercising can significantly reduce depression, anxiety, and stress, and combining the two definitely ups the ante. Both adults and kids who head outdoors for exercise often experience a lift in their moods and a decrease in their stress. This type of shift is especially important for those who are struggling with issues such as depression, addiction, or chronic pain.
Many people find that when they spend more time outside and start to feel less stressed, they naturally gravitate toward a healthier diet. Good nutrition and moderate exercise work wonders together in improving both mental and physical health, and summertime is a great time to make moderate changes that add up to create big changes. It may feel as if it takes a while to see the benefits of eating better and exercising, but the benefits start almost immediately and add up quickly.
Get creative about how to have fun outdoors
When it comes to getting outside, there are lots of ways to keep things fresh for the kids so they don't have the opportunity to complain about being bored. There are the basics such as swimming, biking, and hiking, and well as more creative ideas such as having a squirt gun or water balloon fight, playing hide and seek, tree climbing, and doing a scavenger hunt. There aren’t many children who wouldn’t love a new toy, so why not invest in one that provides entertainment, giggles, and exercise? An electronic bubble blower, inflatable playset, water sprinkler, or a bike chalk trail creator are just a few ideas for endless summer fun. In addition, parents and kids can take advantage of the summer weather to start a garden together or browse the local farmers market, providing both exercise and the opportunity to embrace some healthy foods.
Sometimes activities that would normally feel like chores can turn into family fun and great exercise with the right attitude. Turning chores into fun games can be as easy as making things a competition or a race, adding some music, turning it into a “mission,” or adding a component to make it fun. Kids often love to wash their parents' cars during the nice weather, and gardening, yard work, or outdoor home projects can provide great exercise and family bonding time as well as an opportunity to cross some items off of the to-do list.
Include your furry family member
The family dog offers much laughter, fun, cuddles, and licks, but they provide health benefits too. Countless research has shown that spending time with a dog improves your mood and reduces your stress levels. A family snuggle session with Fido triggers the release of oxytocin, the hormone that reduces fear and creates a sense of calm. A dog is your companion for life, and will always be ready to greet you with a tail wag and plenty of slobber.
It’s obvious that dogs improve your mental wellness, but they have a significant impact on your physical wellness as well. Regular dog walking or even a quick game of fetch are enough to raise your heart rate, giving you and your pooch the exercise you both need. Make it a family affair by visiting a dog park, playing a game of tug-of-war or keep away, going for a swim, or running laps around the yard to see who can get the best time.
As the weather warms up and summertime hits, getting outside for some activity is critical for both parents and kids. Not only does the exercise benefit everybody in terms of their physical health, but everybody's mental health will improve as well. Get creative about playing outdoors together with a water balloon fight or scavenger hunt, involve the family pet for guaranteed laughter, or put the kids to work by making chores fun and engaging. Everybody ultimately wins as they look better, feel better, and end up with some fun family stories to tell about the adventures that came together along the way.