Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Go Outside and Play

Playing outdoors is a form of exercise that promotes well-being and wholesome physical development.  But today's children spend a fraction of their free time outdoors.  When my grandson Wes, was younger – around 4 or 5 years old, he would always complain about being outdoors.  It was too hot, or too cold, or too many bugs.  He would firmly and often tell me with an unyielding mind that “I am not an outdoors type person.”

I quickly learned that all children are not naturally drawn to playing outdoors - unlike when I was a kid.  As soon as our chores were done, we were told to go outside and play, which we gladly did.  Sometimes we would stay outdoors all day, coming in only to eat or when the street lights came one.

However with my grandson, as soon as he wakes up, he immediately turns on the TV to Cartoon Network and pulls out his iPad.  He would spend about 10 hours a day watching TV or playing games. I admit that he has learned so much from using his iPad, but it was taking away from him being involved in any type of physical activity.

To get him outside and more physically activity, his Mom signed him up to run track.  He was a natural athlete since his Dad played professional football and his Mom ran track in college.  He quickly excelled on the track field, which gave him an incredible boost in self-confidence and a newly found love for the outdoors.

Now I can’t keep his little feet still.  He wants to run all of the time – even when the event is just a walking event – like the American Heart Association Heart Walk.  Wes and I participated in the Heart Walk event in Fort Worth on September 7th.  Not only did he run, but he made me run too.  Remember, I am a Nana (Grandma) so this was a great challenge for me.  But I was excited to see him excited so I walked/ran to keep up with him.

He finished the walk/run clocking 9,359 steps.  He was very excited and vowed to return next year.

I am so glad that he has turned his attention away from TV and video games and is now more focused on physical activity.  The outdoors is a fun place to explore and the earlier we start them in physical activity, the better opportunity we will have to keep them active and healthy.  It will also help us mature adults get in our exercise and improve our health and well-being.

So, take the children outside to play. It's a wonderful way to spend the day!

Deborah Blake is a communications specialist at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth.

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