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Make It a Point to Get Outside With Your Family

bicycle-747076_640Americans today — particularly kids — are less connected to the outdoors than ever before, thanks to technology and the hectic pace of everyday life.

National Get Outdoors Day aims to help change that through education and encouragement, as well as reminding people that getting outdoors doesn’t have to mean a full-blown camping trip or a daylong, strenuous hike. It can be as simple as taking a short walk or a quick bike ride in your own neighborhood.

So, on Saturday, June 13, take an hour or so — more, if you choose — and get outside for “GO Day.” You’ll not only get the physical and mental benefits of outdoor activity, you’ll also enjoy some great bonding time with family or friends. Be sure to invite them to join you for one of these or another outdoor activity:

The American Heart Association calls walking the “simplest positive change you can make to effectively improve your heart health.” In addition, it’s an easy way to get yourself and your family in the habit of getting outside. A few tips:

Pick the right path. Think of your family walks as a way to explore nearby neighborhoods or parks. Choose a route that will provide interesting things to see and experience, especially if you’re bringing the kids. The more fun everyone has, the more likely they’ll be to lace up their shoes for the next adventure.

Give yourself enough time. A 30-minute walk each day has a number of benefits, including improved blood pressure, a better sense of mental well-being and a lower risk of obesity, according to the American Heart Association. Can’t do it every day? That’s okay — a few times a week is a great start.

Keep safety in mind. Have a general route in mind before you head out. If you’re near roadways, watch for vehicle traffic at all times. Wear clothing that is easily visible to others, especially if you’re walking early in the morning or at dusk.
If you’re looking for something a little more vigorous – and possibly more scenic – than a stroll through your neighborhood, a hike is the perfect way to truly experience the outdoors. You almost certainly have plenty of trails in your area, from easy ones that take a couple of hours to longer hikes that can last the entire day. Before you go, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Have a plan. Even the easiest hikes can carry some risk. For example, what if you veer off the trail and get lost? Know where you’re going ahead of time, and let someone else know the plan in case something unexpected happens.

Choose what’s right for you. If you’re inexperienced or if you have kids with you, it may not be the best time to try that strenuous eight-hour hike. Pick a route that everyone in your group can manage — and enjoy.

Be prepared. Dress appropriately for the weather, and always bring additional clothing in case it gets cold or wet. Depending on the length of your hike, you’ll also want to bring along some hiking essentials, such as extra water and snacks, a compass and a map, sunscreen, a whistle, first-aid supplies, a flashlight and more.

Don’t forget to explore. Hiking isn’t just about getting to the end of the trail. (In fact, you don’t even have to make it to the end!) Take your time and enjoy the surroundings. And, if you have kids on your hike, let them check out the various things they encounter, whether it’s something as cool as a waterfall or as simple as an interesting rock.
Biking has similar health benefits to walking, and kids love it because, well, it’s faster! Of course, riding can be more dangerous than simply walking as well, so follow these tips:

Find a safe place to ride. If you can, choose places away from streets and parking lots, such as parks, trails or playgrounds.

Set a good example. Whether you’re riding with kids or not, always wear a helmet and cross streets properly. Kids learn by watching adults, so, even if you’re riding alone, someone else’s kids might be watching you.

Have the right equipment. Make sure kids have a bike that’s the right size for them, otherwise they could have trouble controlling it. And, similar to when you’re walking, wear clothing that enables others to see you and bring water and snacks to keep your energy levels up.

Follow the rules of the road. Remember, bikes are considered vehicles, so you must obey the same rules and signals as cars.
One outdoor activity you might not have considered is starting and maintaining a garden. As anyone who has spent an afternoon working in the yard will tell you, it is definitely exercise. It’s also a great way to get the whole family outside. If you’re new to the gardening world, here are some helpful ideas:

Start small. Containers or window boxes can be great choices, especially in urban settings. You can even garden in clean milk containers with the tops cut off.

Make it a team effort. Assign each family member a different job in the garden, from planting to watering to picking, and rotate so everyone gets to try new things.

Don’t be a perfectionist. Your garden isn’t going to be perfect — especially if you have kids helping out. But, that’s okay. The kids (along with you) will be learning as they go, and a little trial and error is good for developing minds.
Of course, you may already have an outdoor hobby you love. If so, we hope you get out there and enjoy it on June 13 for National Get Outdoors Day. Be sure to get the family involved, too!

Want to Amp Up Your Activity Level Even More?
Try Commuting by Bike
Get safety tips for bicycle commuting and for sharing the road with cyclists to help ensure everyone has a safer commute.

Posted on: June 16th, 2015 at 6:33pm by ckieselhorst. Filed under: Uncategorized

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