I don’t profess to be an expert, but I do know the importance of staying active to help us with our physical health, and, let’s face it, our mental health. Exercise has a magical way of releasing some of those holiday stressors. It is a well-known fact that exercise helps develop brain cells, and like most parents, we don’t want our kids melding with the couch over holiday break. So, without actually doing any school work, let’s get them up and moving while at the same time activating those brain cells that think they are in hibernation mode. Here are a few simple, free or low-cost activities you can do with your family, with kids of any age, to get everyone out and get moving.
- Geocaching, think treasure hunt of the technological kind. Who doesn’t like the idea of a treasure hunt? With a simple app you can often find caches (usually a small container) right in your own neighborhood or nearest mall. You’d be surprised how many are placed across the Valley. Going out of town? I bet you will find caches where you are headed. If you will have Wi-Fi issues, you can download the directions ahead of time and still be able to find the cache. Be sure to take a small trinket with you to exchange and please abide by the rules of nature if you are hiking; be properly prepared, respect the environment and leave it better than you found it. geocaching.com
- Want a fun, fitness-filled activity that can actually be played in your living room? Try the cool new game called Fitivities. It is a simple fitness based board game that any age can play. You even get little foam tennis shoes for your game pieces. fitivities.com
- Parcourse, you know those exercise stations you see at some of the local parks? Those are called Parcourse. They are a fun way to get some exercise in your neighborhood park. Most parcourses come with diagrams as to how to perform the exercise and a modification for even the least fit person. You can even take you dog on a walk while you are at it. Don’t have a parcourse in your neighborhood? Use the equipment, benches and monkey bars to help you create your own parcourse. Not sure what muscles to work? Think of your major muscle groups, chest, shoulders, triceps, back, legs and biceps, and doing functional fitness type exercises; exercises that mimic the real world, the everyday activities you do in your life. nerdfitness.com
- How about taking your dog for a walk? Fido will most definitely appreciate the attention and it helps our canine companions stay fit as well. If you haven’t taken you pups on a walk lately, just like their human counterpart, take it slow and gradual. Do the responsible dog owner thing and please pick up their “bombs.”
- Photo scavenger hunt. For better or worse, who doesn’t have a smartphone these days? Use those awesome phones and create a photo scavenger hunt for the family. It could be done just around your own house and yard or it could be around the neighborhood or even the mall. Take a close-up picture of common objects, give a few clues and send the participants on their way. Have a meeting point and the first one back with a full picture of each object is the winner! Search the internet for even more photo scavenger hunt ideas. pintrest.com/explore/photo-scavenger-hunts
I know these aren’t earth-shattering-never-before-heard-of ideas, however, sometimes we tend to overlook the simple. Keeping kids, and adults, active in this day of Netflix, Amazon Prime and DVR’d shows is quite the chore. But, as adults, if we lead by example, get off our own devices and make it fun, our kids are sure to follow suit. Our kid’s health is literally at stake.
– Mesa resident Lynn Preble is a physical education teacher at Highland Junior High School in Mesa. She is president elect of Arizona Health and Physical Education.