Family Health & Wellness

Outdoor Fun & Fitness With Your Family

By April 22, 2013 December 4th, 2013 No Comments
Lincoln Park Zoo run

Parents who are regularly physically-active are doing more good for their family than they may realize. When parents take time to exercise, they are modeling healthy choices over the other alternatives that compete for precious free time. And, what constitutes physical activity is not limited to the treadmill at the gym. 

Any physical activity can provide a variety of fun experiences for your family, plus it will boost the development of a child’s self-esteem. With summer near, warm weather and sunshine make it easy to plan outdoor activities. Whether you have a young baby, a toddler or school-aged children, there are many ways your family can be active at no cost – other than the expense of calories.

Take advantage of the outdoors with the ideas and tips below:

 

Chicago Parks

The most accessible, no-cost destination for outdoor activity is a city park. Gather your family and take a brisk walk. Choose a park that is 20-25 minute walk away and has a playground. At a moderate pace, a 20-minute walk is the equivalent to roughly one mile. Moderate-intensity aerobic activity, like brisk walking, is generally safe for most people, including expecting and newly postpartum women, and grandparents.

Once at the park sneak in a few functional exercises for yourself. A few examples of exercises:

  • Frontward, backward and side lunges – 15 reps each
  • Squats – 15 reps each
  • Pushups – 15 reps each, pushups can be performed with your hand resting on the back of a bench and feet on the ground
  • Planks – hold for 20-30 seconds

When you and your kids had enough, a brisk walk back home will complete your trip to the park – and, you just snuck in a mini-workout! 

Lincoln Park Zoo run

The Lincoln Park Zoo is one of our favorite destinations in Chicago.

Lakefront

The lakefront is a great resource for a fitness walk or run with your child in tow. A stroller best suited for jogging has three, 12-20” inflatable tires and shock absorbers to provide a comfortable ride for both you and your child. Non-swivel wheels are recommended for running as curious toddlers often like to climb into strollers. A swivel wheel can cause these strollers to become unsteady. Stroller manufacturers and local retailers also recommend that your child be at least six months old and have enough head control to be safe in a jogger.

Plan a run, or a combination run-walk for at least 20 minutes in one direction on the lakefront. Safety comes first, of course, so be aware of your surroundings, pullover to the side if you need to stop, and look behind you when you’re ready to make a turn. When you complete the first 20 minutes, stop and complete one or two sets of the functional exercises listed above. Now you’re ready for the second half of your run.

It would be easy to turn your fitness run into a fun activity for all by packing a healthy snack or lunch and a blanket for a picnic. Bring a few toys for your child, and end your fitness run at the beach or another fun spot, like the zoo. Everyone can enjoy the outdoors!

General Safety Tips:

  • Your child should always be completely strapped into stroller at all times.
  • Be careful of theft. Do not park your stroller and leave valuables in it. Unfortunately, theft occurs often in broad daylight at the most popular parks in the city.

A study by the University of Iowa, concluded that kids who are active at age 5 tend to stay lean as they grow even if they do not remain as active later in childhood. With child obesity rates at an all-time high, parents have important influence by modeling a healthy and active lifestyle for their children. After all, active and healthy parents have happy and healthy families.

Share the types of activities  you do with your family below.

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