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Posted in Healthy Living | July 2014

Outdoor fitness fun for everyone

During the colder months it can be challenging to find outdoor activities that are accessible to everyone in the family, but in the summer all that changes. Getting in a few extra steps is as easy as opening up the front door and strolling around the block on a warm, sunny day.

Physical activity aids in healthy growth and development, helps prevents chronic disease (like cancer and type 2 diabetes), makes us stronger, gives us more energy, helps decrease stress and can prolong independence as we get older.1

There are countless ways to spend time outdoors as a family, having fun while getting your daily-recommended amount of exercise. Exactly how much should you and your family be moving every day? According to the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology :

  • Children ages 5 – 17 should get a minimum of one hour of moderate to vigorous activity daily.
  • Adults age 18 – 64 should accumulate 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic physical activity per week in bouts of 10 minutes or more.
  • Adults 65 years of age and older should also accumulate 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity per week in bouts of 10 minutes or more. Those with poor mobility should perform physical activities to enhance balance and prevent falls.

Getting outside and simply playing with your family is one of the easiest ways to sneak in those all-important exercise minutes.

  • Throw a Frisbee around at the park.
  • Play a game of catch with your kids.
  • Take a hike through a conservation area or local park.
  • Go for a family bike ride.
  • Let the kids run through the sprinkler on a really hot day.
  • Go for a swim at your local public pool.
  • Shoot some hoops at the school playground.
  • Give each of the kids a skipping rope—and pick one up for yourself too!
  • Encourage the kids to play a game of tag. Join in!
  • Play badminton or croquet in your backyard.
  • Start a walking routine, gradually increasing the distance of each walk as you feel comfortable.

If you’re able to plan a summer vacation, try to think of one that allows for the most outdoor family activity time. Cottage or camping vacations mean swimming, walks through the woods, games on the beach, kayaking and water skiing. Even activities like collecting firewood and clearing a spot to pitch your tent are great ways to get physical. Trips to areas known for their natural beauty—think Sequoia National Park in California or the Finger Lakes in New York State—will also encourage you to get out into the great outdoors.

If you’re sticking close to home this summer, you’re in the perfect position to get involved in outdoor sports in your community. Check your local community centre to find out if there are any baseball, soccer, cricket or even lawn bowling leagues looking for new participants. Kids learn by example, so even if they don’t play, watching you lace up your cleats might just inspire them to get in the game.

However you decide to get your family moving this summer, try to make it a habit. Go for an after dinner walk every night, take a long bike ride every weekend or hit the pool every morning.

The easiest way to turn something into a habit is to set small, achievable goals. Instead of insisting that the after dinner walk has to be an hour, commit to just 20 minutes. Chances are once you’re out enjoying the cool evening breezes you’ll actually want to extend your walk. That means you’ll get the motivating satisfaction of knowing you did more than you intended, and all the benefits of a longer walk.

Planning is also key to making your new outdoor fitness goals achievable. Make sure you have all the things you need prepped and ready so you can just pick up and go! Buy a Frisbee and skipping ropes early in the season, make sure your basketball and bike tires are inflated, keep clean beach towels handy and have a place in your garage or shed where everything is neatly stored and easily accessible.

Gyms are a fantastic way for us to get exercise during the cold winter months, but it’s summer, so you have plenty of fun, outdoor options right now. Get outside and enjoy being active and healthy with the whole family!

For more tips on getting active for ages 5 – 65+, visit the Public Health Agency of Canada, Kids Health and  NIH Senior Health .



411250D CAN/US (04/15)


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