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I don't often write a blog post in response to something I've read, but today I'm going to make an exception. Yesterday, I read this article which was published The Lancet. It was also in this weeks journal Nature.
Basically, here's the bottom line of what I read:
Researchers announced on May 29th data from more than 19,000 individuals in 188 countries show that the prevalence of overweight and obese people rose by 27.5% for adults ad 47.1% for children from 1980 and 2013. Almost 2/3 of obese people live in developing countries. the study found no countries in which obesity had fallen significnatly. Source: M. Ng et al., The Lancet, 2014
According to this study, in one single generation we have seen a 47.1% increase in obesity in children! Why is this a problem? Why should we care? Well, according to the Center for Disease Control, childhood obesity increases a child's risk for cardiovascular disease (such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol) later in life. It also increases a child's risk of Type 2 diabetes, bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, stroke, cancer, osteoarthritis and more.
So what are some ways that we can minimize these risks for our children? I've put together a list of 50 activities families can enjoy together. Most of these activities are free, but I've included some of my affiliate links for the rare activity where you might need specific supplies.
- Play a game of Family Tag
- Hide and Seek can be played indoors or outdoors.
- Take your family on a walk through your neighborhood playing Follow the Leader.
- Limit Television Time. When a program is over, turn the television off and go do something else.
- Do chores together. Working with someone is always more fun the working alone. Play some fun music in the background to make chore time even better!
- Get some sidewalk chalk and teach your children to play HopScotch or FourSquare.
- Have your own parade! Equip your children with pot lids and spoons and walk through your neighborhood being your own marching band, singing some fun songs together. (But only if you have neighbors who are good sports!)
- Take your children to a playground and play with them! No sitting on a bench just watching.
- Have a water balloon fight!
- Have a pillow fight!
- Make children earn their screen time by having to do a certain number of chores first.
- I once had a teacher who hooked up his television set to a stationary bicycle. His kids had to pedal to keep the TV on! (Ok, maybe that one is a bit extreme…)
- Plant and tend a garden together.
- Go camping! (Yes, in a tent. Everything takes more work when you're “roughing it” but you'll make some great memories.)
- Offer to walk dogs for senior citizens.
- Volunteer somewhere as a family. Food Pantries often need somene to stalk shelves and vacuum the floor during their off-hours.
- Climb a tree. (Be careful not to fall!)
- Go on a Bike Ride.
- Do you live near a National Park or National Monument? Check out their free Junior Ranger Program.
- Send your children on a treasure hunt through the neighborhood. (Accompanied by an adult, of course. Give them a list of items they should look for on their walk.)
- Let your children create a treasure hunt for you (again, with proper adult supervision).
- Invite friends over and have an impromptu game of “Capture the Flag,” “Dodgeball” or “Red Rover.” Play with your children.
- Invest in a skipping rope. How many skipping rhymes can you remember from your childhood? Teach them to your children!
- Strap on a pair of roller blades! (If you have a little one, you can always roller blade while pushing a stroller. Our local skating rink calls it “Stroller Skating.”
- Find a basket ball net and shoot some hoops just for fun.
- Learn to juggle.
- Equip older children with a pedometer and have daily challenges to see who can walk a certain number of steps in a day.
- Go bowling as a family.
- Go Swimming.
- Backpack a picnic and take a hike on the nearest nature trail.
- Rent a canoe or a paddle wheel boat for an afternoon.
- Chase Fireflies.
- Visit your local Wildlife sanctuary and check out what kinds of free programs they offer.
- Ban electronics for a week (or a day) and see what happens.
- Put on some happy music and let your children skip or dance through the house while they are doing their chores. Join in the fun with them!
- Have a Hoola Hoop Tournament with your children.
- Invest in a good frisbee or a boomerang.
- Invite another family (or two) over and have a relay race. Consider racing the parents against kids or the boys against the girls (including parents). Just be sure the teams are fairly evenly matched up.
- Build a fort or a treehouse together. (You can either build with a hammer and saws or you can use blankets.)
- Make a kite and then fly it together.
- Go to the beach and build an epic sandcastle together.
- See if a local museum or historical society offers historic walks in your town.
- Run or swing through a sprinkler.
- Make paper airplanes and then see whose can fly the furthest.
- Go Birdwatching together.
- Go Berrypicking then make a delicious treat together!
- Play charades.
- Check out a book from the library about Games from Around the World and try a game you've never played before.
- Use a bedsheet to play parachute games.
- Have your children make up new rules to an old game.
What are your family's favorite summertime activities?