Simple Outdoor Activities for Families This Spring

If you want to significantly improve the health of yourself and your loved ones, science overwhelmingly agrees: stop spending so much time indoors. Make time to get outside and get your blood pumping while you are out there.

According to the School of Health and Human Performance at Dublin City University (DCU), even short walks around the neighborhood can be enormously restorative. “From the neurons in your brain to the blood vessels in your small toe, there isn’t a body part that isn’t positively affected by even a 15-minute walk,” Professor Niall Moyna tells RTE. “The impact [of] exercise on mental health is incalculable.”

It is important to weigh the effects of our everyday activities on our mental health — and particularly on our children’s emotional well-being. Countless studies show that children are struggling right now and that the rates of depression and anxiety amongst young children and teens are higher than ever before. Spending time outside can change that.

Consider these simple outdoor activities for families. Spend more quality time as a family and ensure the well-being of all family members, young and old.

Why Is it Important for Kids to Get Outside?

For children and teens, getting outside is just as important as regular visits to the family physician. Learn how simple outdoor activities for families improve mental and physical health.

  • Spending time outdoors lowers cortisol and improves mood. Spending time in nature reduces the stress hormone cortisol and boosts the feel-good hormone serotonin. The effect is having more energy, feeling calmer, and lowering rates of anxiety and depression.
  • Being outside promotes better health and wellness. Did you know that spending time outdoors can literally improve your immune system? Time spent outdoors increases your exposure to vitamin D, and vitamin D plays a key role in maintaining your immune system. The great outdoors also expose you to more oxygen — important for thriving white blood cells — and a greater number of phytoncides, a chemical from trees that naturally fights germs.
  • Time outdoors is correlated with regular exercise and stronger bones and muscles. Finally, being outside encourages you and your family to take part in healthy outdoor activities, like hiking, swimming, cycling, gardening, and more. These activities use and strengthen multiple muscle groups, increase bone density, and improve balance.

Try a Unique Activity

Simple outdoor activities for families do not have to be a bore. Mix things up this spring by choosing a unique activity that is accessible to all members of the family. Examples of unique activities include jumping on a trampoline, slacklining, and archery. See below for a more in-depth look at each activity.

  • Jumping on a trampoline. Jumping outdoors on a trampoline has several benefits. Children learn more quickly and attentively when they are surrounded by nature. Use jumping as an opportunity to teach kids how to count or use a timer and teach them to share and take turns. The activity also boosts cardiovascular fitness, builds strong bones, and improves mood. For safe jumping, look into outdoor trampolines with special features, like springless trampolines or trampolines with safety nets.
  • Slacklining. When it comes to slacklining, one of the most common questions that come up is, what is it? A slackline a thick strip of fabric, like nylon, suspended in between two supports. Many include a rope or support, called a training line, above your head to help you balance and stabilize. To slackline in your backyard, many families secure them between two trees. Slacklining is a full-body workout. It improves focus, balance, and may even help children recover from injuries. Perhaps one of the best advantages of slacklines is that parents are able to position them however they like. If you are more comfortable starting your child off low to the ground — with just a few inches of clearance — do it. As their skills improve, you can move the slackline up slightly if you wish.
  • Archery. Archery is an ideal sport for you and your family because it is suitable for all ages and fitness levels. The activity can be adapted for all types of weather. Begin teaching your children archery now, spend plenty of time outdoors this spring, summer, and fall, and bring it indoors during winter. Archery teaches kids valuable life skills, including confidence, focus, and hand-eye coordination, and it is surprisingly safe. In fact, archery is 15 to 25 times safer — meaning there are comparatively fewer injuries — than basketball and baseball, according to the National Safety Council (NSC).

    Of course, this depends on the type of archery in question. Run-of-the-mill archery is very safe. If you plan to combine archery and hunting or use a crossbow, follow the recommended safety guidelines for those activities at all times.

Garden and Fix Up Your Home’s Landscaping

There are also simple outdoor activities for families that get you moving but do not feel like a traditional workout. A simple way of working up a sweat while outdoors is to garden and work on your home’s landscaping.

The Washington Post describes gardening as “excellent physical activity. There’s activity in tilling the soil, carting fresh compost by wheelbarrow, seed-planting, then weeding and watering, and maintenance of the garden.” To successfully introduce kids to gardening, keep it age-appropriate. Outdoor Living Today recommends starting with large seeds, like sunflower seeds, that are easy to handle and to see or, for especially young children that are prone to being impatient, visit your local nursery to purchase already growing fruits and vegetables. Begin by teaching kids to plant seeds or growing plants and water them. Over time, introduce more steps, like weeding and harvesting.

While you supervise your children, you and your spouse can take part in activities to improve your landscape. Use tree trimmers to cut back small branches and prune trees. Look out for any bald spots on your lawn, and plant new grass to fill them in.

Go On a Hike

For other simple outdoor activities for families, don’t forget about hiking! Hiking is an extraordinary workout for adults, and — with the right preparations — your children can easily benefit from it, too.

It is always important to stay well-hydrated and safe while hiking. It is even more important to be prepared while hiking with children. The National Park Service (NPS) recommends bringing along 10 essential items. These include water, sun protection (sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses), food, navigation, a flashlight, matches, a first aid kit, an extra layer of clothing, repair tools, and an emergency shelter. While it is true that we are living in The Digital Age, it is always wise to bring along a compass and/or a paper map just in case your phone loses reception or runs out of battery.

With the essentials in tow, hiking is an extremely engaging and fun family activity. Hiking is a great workout, it teaches your children about local wildlife, and it can easily be an opportunity to teach your child about leaving the park the way you found it. Teach your children to respect nature and never litter or leave trash behind.

Have a Picnic In a Local Park

Sometimes, simple outdoor activities for families can be just that: simple. Pack the family up, and enjoy a picnic in the park. If your children want to play and run around, all the better. If not, getting outside is much better than not getting outside at all.

Keep your kids happy with child-friendly pasta salads or quesadillas with cheese and vegetables and fruit or homemade trail mix to snack on. Keep the trip dentist-friendly. Make sure your children thoroughly brush their teeth when you get home.

Bring bubbles, a Frisbee, or gloves and a softball to encourage active play.

Make Your Driveway a Fun Space

With some precaution, your driveway can be much more than a place to park or to drive over on your way to the garage. The driveway can also be the perfect spot for fun and simple outdoor activities for families. To transform your driveway into the perfect place to play:

  • Buy a basketball hoop. A trip to the local basketball facility can be enriching and fun, but why not bring the fun home? Invest in a basketball hoop to shoot some hoops, and play games, like H-O-R-S-E, Knockout, and Around The World.
  • Two words: sidewalk chalk. Sidewalk chalk is the perfect excuse to get your kids out the door. Head outside with a bucket of chalk and simply let your child be creative. Liven things up by playing games. Draw a line or swirl, and challenge your child to draw a picture using that as a starting point. If you and your child grow tired of being artsy, use the chalk to draw a maze, hopscotch board, or four square onto the driveway and get a more active game started.

Wash Your Family’s Vehicles

For the adults in the family, washing the car may seem like a chore. However, get young children involved, and you may be able to transform the item on your to-do list into a day of family fun.

Start by setting the stage. Talk to a paving company about finally paving your driveway before taking on the task. A driveway made up of pebbles, stones, and dirt is going to get muddy fast — and that makes it a less than ideal environment to wash the car, particularly with children.

Make it fun by playing music, talking to your kids, and directly involving them in the process. Give them big, soft, soapy sponges to help clean the car or have them put socks on their hands and dip them into buckets of soap.

After putting the finishing touches on the family vehicle, park it in the garage to ensure it stays clean. If moving the car in and out of the garage becomes cumbersome due to a malfunctioning garage door, stop parking the car in the driveway and simply living with it. Call a garage door service to get the problem resolved.

Rent an RV For a Weekend Camping Getaway

Don’t overthink simple outdoor activities for families. Camping is the perfect outdoor retreat for the family, and it is one that families have enjoyed for years and years. Introduce your child to the well-loved activity by easing them into it.

Start by searching for a used RV for sale. A used RV comes with everything you need, often at half the price of a new one — or less. Having a source of running water, a toilet, and a place to cook should it rain will make it easier to camp with young children. Camping helps children learn how to unplug from devices. You can also use the opportunity to teach children basic survival skills and to instill a love of nature in them from a young age.

Go Swimming

To fully enjoy the benefits of the great outdoors, stick to simple outdoor activities for families. Staying active and spending time in nature can be as straightforward as spending a day near the pool.

Swimming is a great activity for all members of the family. It is low-impact, which is important for family members — likely the adults — who may have bad knees, achy joints, or arthritis, it builds muscle and greatly improves cardiovascular health, and it is an essential skill for your kiddos to learn. If you have a pool in your backyard, it is critical that your children learn to swim at a young age and that they are strong swimmers.

Keep your swimming experience as carefree and comfortable as possible by keeping up on routine pool maintenance. Should you notice a tear or rip in the pool liner, a faulty pump, or other common problems, call a pool repair service to fix it right away.

Are you looking for simple outdoor activities for families this spring? Stick to the list above, and you are sure to find something for the entire family. Get outside to improve mood, boost your immune system, and encourage children to regularly exercise.

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