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American society is currently dealing with an obesity epidemic which can be directly related to lack of exercise, unhealthy dietary habits and the convenience of prepackaged, fast food meals.

Dealing with an obesity epidemic

Everything from TV advertisements enticing people to indulge in fatty laden, processed foods to instant gratification and an excessively sedentary lifestyle leads a person to gain weight.  If these things are ever going to change, it is very important for a family to lay down the groundwork now in order to help the next generation enjoy a healthier quality of life.

There is a big difference between someone being overweight and an individual being morbidly obese.  Both labels signify a person that has a greater than healthy or normal body weight for a given height.  However, to determine if someone is obese, a body mass index or BMI scale is used, which correlates with the amount of body fat a person has. In adults a BMI of 25-29.9 is considered overweight and 30 or higher is labeled as obese.  In children and teens, BMI guidelines are designed to take into consideration body fat between genders and the differences in body fat at different ages.


Spring Outdoor Activities for Children and Adults

If we, as a country, are going to do something about the national obesity problem it is important to get up and be active.  There are a number of spring activities outdoor recreation for children and adults, which are appropriate for people of any age and fitness level and sure to be enjoyed by everyone in the family.  It is a matter of getting up and being proactive about physical fitness and making it a family affair will teach youngsters about the importance of being active.

The following is a list of different activities which the whole family will enjoy:

  • Hiking: an outdoor activity which consists of walking over different terrains and often on a trail. 
  • Backpacking: also known as trekking and is more intensive than hiking.
  • Dog hiking: can be highly enjoyable to exercise with pets.
  • Dog walking: get outdoors and taking the family pet for a walk can be a highly enjoyable exercise everyone looks forward to doing together
  • Nordic walking: walking with fitness poles.
  • Scrambling: rock-climbing or done indoors on prefabricated structures.
  • Waterfallling: includes hunting waterfalls and hiking with others with the purpose of finding and enjoying waterfalls.
  • Swimming: can be very enjoyable when weather permits and helps tone and shape the body.  Low impact is ideal for those with limited movement or joint motility issues and is a non-impact exercise.  Swimming can also be done indoors when the weather gets bad and is an activity enjoyed by everyone from small kids to even senior citizens.
  • Running: involves either jogging or distance running, which is a great form of exercise which gets the blood flowing, melts fats and raises the heart rate, all of which are excellent for those trying to lose weight and stay in shape.
  • Mountain cycling: a mountain activity which can be fun for someone of more advanced fitness levels.
  • Skiing: can be either on water or snow, great fun for the whole family.
  • Windsurfing: a fresh water activity which many enjoy and is physically challenging and mentally stimulating.
  • Tree climbing: great for bringing out a person’s inner child and as long as someone does not have preexisting knee or joint problems, it is a great way to stretch and work out all the muscles of the body.
  • Rock climbing: for more advanced fitness levels and is adventurous and challenging.
  • Kayaking:  a water sport which is great for exercising the upper body.
  • Canoeing:  slower than kayaking and is an enjoyable weekend activities many families observe.
  • Rafting: for the more physically fit individuals, not something to be done alone, but rather under the watchful eye of a guide that has been properly trained and has vast experience.
  • Caving: exploring caves
  • Photography:  photography is not only a creative outlet, but when taking pictures of nature it can include a hike through a favorite park or nature area to observe animals, appreciate the scenery and enjoy the great outdoors.
  • Hill walking: for people of a more advanced fitness level, but with time and enough practice people of all ages can enjoy moderate hill walking inclines


Any type of outdoor activity can be done in nature away from the hustle and bustle of the city, which provides hours of exercise and entertainment.  A person should never let financial limitations prevent them from getting out and enjoying all of the opportunities available around them.  Outdoor activities with the family are enjoyed for the chance to observe scenery and nature, to relieve stress and in order to relax the mind and body.


Benefits of Outdoor Activities

Besides the chance to get out and bond with the family, there are also other numerous benefits to outdoor activities.  When in the sunshine a person’s body is able to convert vitamins and minerals and when physically active it releases feel good endorphins which improves the mood and outlook tremendously.  Spring activities outdoor recreation for children and adults is something that benefits everyone and should be done as much for enjoyment, as for exercise.

Studies have shown that families that participate in group fitness activities have a stronger bond, better health and overall wellbeing was also improved.  Outdoor exercises are good for the mind and body, light on the budget and a good way to have fun together as a family.  The great outdoors provides many social benefits, raises a child’s awareness about the importance of physical activity and can lead to an appreciation of the best of what nature has to offer.

Overview

With all of the ways to get fit, lose weight and promote family fitness, there is a large variety of different things a family can do to have together time.  From cycling to swimming, hiking and rafting, the possibilities are endless and the choices vast, a family should pick one or two activities and try to get out daily to make the most of the springtime weather and stay active. The things a young child learns now will carry over into adulthood and will increase the chances that physical fitness will carry over into the future, and lessen the chances of being overweight or obese later in life.

  • www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/index.html
  • www.cdc.gov/obesity/defining.html
  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outdoor_activity
  • einside.kent.edu/?type=art&id=82928&