Sadly, in North American we have seen a decline in the amount of time children spend outdoors. This shift has been partly due to increased access to digital devices and TV, as well as limited access to perceived safe outdoor places. Prior to the pandemic, only 15% of Canadian children met the recommended guidelines for physical activity and during the initial stages of the pandemic this dropped to 5.6%. Thankfully as the pandemic continued families explored outdoor parks and trails, and schools took some activities outside. This is great news as research shows that outdoor play not only offers physical benefits but also cognitive benefits as well.
The Canadian “24-Hour Movement Guideline For Children and Youth” recommends 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity, several hours of a variety of light physical activity, and no more than two hours of recreational screen time per day. So how can we get kids to spend more time outdoors? Here are some ideas:
Include both Child-Led and Adult-Led Activities:
Take turns when it comes to selecting activities. Allow the child to play a role in decision making to ensure they get to do activities that are important to them.
Whether it’s a walk after dinner, or outdoor playtime after school, make outdoor activities a part of your family routine.
Dress for the Weather:
Nothing makes bad memories more than being cold, wet, and miserable. Dress for the weather and enjoy your time outside. Dress in layers and if in doubt, you are best to overdress than under. You can always remove a layer when you get warm.
Set Realistic Expectations:
Ensure you participate in activities with realistic expectations. If you’ve never hiked before, start with a short, easy hike. Don’t hesitate to stop and turn around if people get tired or sore.
Find Local Opportunities:
Keep it close and simple. Being active outdoors doesn’t mean you have to travel long ways. Find some fun outdoor places close to home whether it’s a small park, creek, pond, or neighbourhood skating rink.
Track Your Hours:
Participate in an outdoor activity challenge.
Try the https www.1000hoursoutside.com/trackers
This challenge is to spend 1000 hours outdoor in one year.