Getting Active In Nature: How To Stay Healthy And Active At Home

By: Leslie Garner, Early Childhood Educator

With all this social distancing and quarantine life going on, most of us are finding ourselves at home a lot more these days – many are families with children. So how do you stay healthy and active while staying at home, especially when you have children who use up a lot of energy? You connect it to gardening, of course! Keep reading for tips and ideas on how to stay healthy and active at home – with kids.

Getting Active in Nature

Keeping kids active at home shouldn’t be hard. Get creative with fun games or learning activities to promote physical movement and tie into gardening or nature.

Here are some ideas for nature exercises and activities to get you started:

  • Go on a nature walk. For this activity, you simply go for a walk around your backyard, through your neighborhood, or your garden. Talk about things that you see related to gardening or play nature “I Spy.” Another fun idea to go along with this is making nature bracelets. Simply take some masking tape, make a bracelet to go around your wrist with the sticky side out and, as you go on your walk, collect things to stick onto your bracelet. Young children especially enjoy this activity. It can include sticking things like small twigs, leaves, flowers or even dirt.
  • Play garden games. Put a fun garden twist on classic games such as “Duck, Duck, Goose.” Instead of saying “duck, duck, goose,” use garden words. Examples include “seed, seed, sprout” or “grow, grow, flower.” Not only are these fun but will promote physical movement.
  • Relay races in the backyard. If you have multiple children or if other members of the family want to get involved, have a relay race. One way you can do this is to use wheelbarrows and have a wheelbarrow race. You can use real garden wheelbarrows or if you have enough family members, one person can hold the legs of the child up while they crawl with their arms This is a good way to burn up some extra energy while having fun.
  • Create a backyard digging station. Have an outdoor area set up as a digging station. Children of all ages, even adults, can enjoy this, as it can be adapted to fit the needs of whatever age using it. In an area filled with sand, soil, or dirt, add some age-appropriate gardening tools for kids, like miniature rakes and shovels (or similar on-hand items). These tools can help mimic skills that would be used in a garden. Of course, young children can just have this area to play while older children and adults can actually use this area for actual planting or planning a garden.
  • Dance in the garden. Dance like nobody is watching (and if they are, that’s fine too!) A simple idea to help promote physical movement outdoors is to take music outside and just dance in the backyard. You can do freestyle, make up your own garden grooves, or do an actual dance but move to the beat! You can also come up with creative ways of moving with an educational aspect. A couple ideas include bee dancing and cricket jumping. You can talk about the importance of pollination and how bees play a role in this and move and dance using patterns the way bees move. See if you can jump as far as a cricket can, as they can jump up to 30 times their own body length. Measure how far that is, place a stick or rock there, and then jump and see how far you can jump.
  • Create an obstacle course. Another fun idea is creating an obstacle course. This can be different for each family. You can come up with anything you want. Find everyday garden items or other things around the yard to include in the course. It is only limited by your imagination! An example can be laying a ladder down on the ground and having children step through rungs without touching them, pushing a well wheelbarrow or garden cart from one point to another, jumping or crawling through a hula hoop, crawling underneath a picnic table, balancing on a piece of wood or jumping over a stick, stopping to do a ball or beanbag toss, and so much more! This is also another great way to get out built-up energy.
  • Yoga in the garden. For a more relaxing way to still be physically active, try garden yoga with kids. This is another activity where you can get creative and come up with your own ideas. Some poses can include things like pretending to be a tall tree, butterfly pose, imitating plant seed growth, or poses to represent different types of weather which help the garden grow. You can go online and buy books, cards, or posters with garden yoga poses specifically for children. You can also get ideas and make your own cards to use.

Connecting Good Health to Gardening

How can you incorporate health into these lessons as well? One way is to discuss healthy food choices and determine which of those can be grown in the garden. You can even choose a few to grow together at home in the family garden.

Getting outside is a good source of Vitamin D, so get those kids outdoors and soaking up the sun! Of course, take proper precautions like wearing a sun hat, sunscreen, and protection from mosquitoes. Also, remember to always wash your hands after coming indoors, handling dirt or garden creatures, and before meals.

Gardening is an activity improves mental health too. Emotional well-being is just as important as physical health, so there’s no reason not to get outdoors and put those hands into the dirt! It’s also been said to boost the immune system and who doesn’t need that right now?

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Outdoor play and physical activities are essential for your child’s upbringing. It is also a great way to spend time together as a family. Explore, build, create, inspire, have fun, and enjoy your heart’s content while playing and participating in various fun and interactive activities with your children.

With health and quarantine protocols still underway, your kids will definitely get bored of their cellphones and other gadgets and opt for more exciting activities, we hope. An activity-friendly backyard does just the trick to encourage your kids to leave their smartphones, tablets, and gaming consoles behind to enjoy a few hours under the sun.

Here are three simple and creative ways that you can try to get an activity-friendly backyard that is perfect for your kids. Let them enjoy a day out in the sun to either play and discover on their own, or take some time off your busy schedule for a family playdate. Let your imagination run wild with these different backyard concepts.

There’s a REAL need for active, outdoor play. Now more than ever. The more outdoor activities you can encourage and facilitate for your kids, the more they’ll reap the physical and emotional benefits of such play. Creating outdoor experiences for the entire family is a great place to start!

There are actually lots of fun, simple, and creative ways to help your kids get outside–ones that don’t cost a lot of money, time, or planning. We’re sharing 31 of them below. Try one today!

Without getting overly complicated, the goal for exercise with kids is to keep things LIGHT and FUN. For kids to get moving, and to do so willingly, they have to be enticed with fun activities that make them smile!

In addition to that, to keep stress low for parents and caretakers, using limited equipment or what's around the house is an ideal way to make movement activities as straightforward as possible.

Activity Idea #1 – Zoofari (Ages 2-5)

Equipment needed: Construction or any paper to mark stations, a marker for writing (the kids can help if they can write)

Activity Idea #2 – Island Hopping (Ages 2-5)

Equipment needed: Construction or any paper to mark stations, a marker for writing (the kids can help if they can write)

31 Fitness Activities for Kids That You Can Do as a Family


Social distancing can feel a little claustrophobic at times. Luckily, even though many recreational centers are closed, there are plenty of ways your family can get active through the quarantine—both indoors and outdoors.

We’ve put together a list of 31 fun at-home exercises geared towards families. Whether your children do them on their own or you enjoy a fun workout as a family, these are all great ways to keep moving and stay healthy.

1. Go on a family hike scavenger hunt and see how many of these items you can find.

2. Play this What’s Your Name? activity. Children complete one exercise—like push-ups or hopping on one foot—for each letter of their name.

3. Try Kidz Bop Dance Along , a video playlist by the makers of Kidz Bop with plenty of family-friendly dances to popular songs.

4. If at least three members of your family are free and you have jump ropes, try learning to jump double dutch .

5. If you have any older kids at home, show them these simple strength-building exercises for teenagers .

6. Set up a sidewalk chalk obstacle course to give your kids’ agility and creativity a workout.

7. Check out Sworkit , a resource with tons of free exercise games for kids organized by categories like strength, agility, and warm-up.

8. Follow the #ActiveHomeChallenge , a Twitter event from Gopher that shares a quick exercise for families to do together every day at 8AM EST.

9. Play Roll for Fitness . With a two dice and a positive attitude, your children can take turns completing 11 different exercises.

10. Sign up for free exercise games and videos from GoNoodle’s Good Energy at Home program.

11. To build strength and endurance in an age-appropriate way, try this high-intensity interval training (HIIT) exercise for kids .

12. Set up and play some indoor bowling . All you need are household items like pool noodles, empty water bottles, and a bouncy ball.

13. Go on a mindful walk as a family and turn your five senses to the world around you.

14. Learn a new skill and make the most of your social distancing time with these Karate for Kids lessons.

15. For younger children, try relaxing together with this yoga for toddlers video .

16. Hold a family egg and spoon race , which can help kids practice balancing and working as a team.

17. Go on a bike ride or a run around the neighborhood to get your daily dose of vitamin D.

18. Play Indoor Blizzard with younger kids as a reward for getting things done.

19. Check out The Body Coach , a YouTube channel with exercises that teach kids to be mindful of their body.

20. Play freeze dance , a game that not only gets kids moving but also teaches listening skills.

21. Instead of searching for gym equipment, try these no-equipment exercises from the ACE Fit exercise library.

22. To have kids help out around the house, try these chores that double as a great workout .

23. Clear your mind and stretch your muscles with some outdoor garden yoga .

24. If you have a hula hoop and a ball, play Slam Ball outside as a family.

25. Check out all of these games you can do with just a beach ball , like Catch & Do! and Toss It In.

26. Try learning a Zumba dance for kids, like this one set to the song “I Like to Move It.”

27. Help your child l earn to juggle , which can boost their hand-eye coordination.

28. Turn on this family cardio workout and get your blood pumping together.

29. Set up a masking tape balance beam to teach kids how to follow directions and maintain their balance.

30. Play Deck of Fitness . All you need is a deck of cards and some music to create your own exercise routine.

31. Use the Just Dance YouTube channel to find tons of exercise dances by the makers of the video game with the same name.

45 Fun and Healthy Activities To Do With Your Kids This Summer

School’s out and with it comes the three words you dread to hear this summer: I am bored.

Worry not! We have your ultimate list of 45 fun and healthy activities you can do with your kids this summer.

Even better? All of these ideas are designed to encourage your kids to learn what you already know: being active is healthy. Exercise is good for you and eating clean tastes good and feels great!

Summer can be tons of fun. Be that healthy role model for your kids this summer and use these 45 healthy and fun activities to keep the kids happy and healthy.

1. Go to the farmer’s market.

The best way kids learn healthy habits is by watching your healthy habits. Teach them well by letting them tag along to the farmer’s market.

Load up on fresh produce. Better yet? Let them each have $5 to spend on something healthy. When you get home you can make healthy snacks or let them help you prepare a healthy dinner with the items you just purchased.

2. Make smoothies.

Little ones find it fascinating to blend things up. Let them help you put fruit, almond milk and veggies into your smoothie maker or blender.

I’ve got tons of smoothie recipes your kids will enjoy. Let them see that veggies are even yummy to drink. You could dare your kids to drink something green!

Buy some reusable color straws and your smoothies are guaranteed to please.

3. Take a day trip.

Mixing up the routine prevents boredom. Head to a neighboring town and try something new.

Take a dip in a lake, head out for a hike on a new trail or let your kids enjoy an all-new playground.

Let your kids appreciate a little change of scenery and schedule.

4. Go to the gym.

Does your gym have childcare? Let your kids see that you prioritize exercise and they will too.

Give yourself an hour of me-time while they play with other kids at your local gym.

Don’t forget to explain why mommy is going for a workout.

5. Plant a garden.

Herbs, veggies or flowers? Pick your favorite and dig in the dirt with your kids to let them see that they can grow things with their two little hands.

Then you can show them how to make good use of what you grow.

You can even get them their own gardening tools for some pride of ownership!

6. Cook together.

Nothing is better than making something healthy for your kids and watching them eat it up, sans whining.

Try a recipe I love for healthier macaroni and cheese or experiment with a healthier dinner recipe.

7. Go to the playground.

Swings, slides, sandboxes and tunnels are easy breezy active fun for your kids. While you keep one eye on the kiddos, you can do your own playground workout.

8. Do a penny hike.

This may sound silly, but when I was a little kid, my mom used to take us on penny hikes. Back in the day when a penny was worth something, we would flip the penny at each corner heads we went right, tales we went left.

Each time the walk would be different. My siblings and I loved penny hikes and I’m sure it was a way for my mom to get outside and stay sane. Try a penny hike with your little ones.

9. Go swimming

Member at a pool club? Own a pool? Buy some of those colorful noodles and make a splash this summer by having regular swim time with the kids.

Practice different swim strokes or floats or just see who can make the biggest splash.

10. Create your own race.

Ready, set, go is all it takes if you have toddlers. They will love to run, run, run in an open park or on a walking path.

If your kids are older, make it a fun race to see who can run the fastest.

11. Go bowling on a rainy day.

Any age can appreciate the easy fun of knocking things over, especially on a day when you are stuck inside.

While it might not always be simple to have a good bowling score, bowling can be easy fun and usually good for lots of laughs (gutter ball!).

12. Paint, draw or write.

Pull out that inner artist and let your kids keep a summer diary or have regular time to paint or draw.

Take your budding artist outside in the shade to avoid the indoor mess. Use watercolors, chalk, colored pencils, markers or crayons to create some new artwork for your fridge or bulletin board.

Does your child love to write? Encourage them to capture what they love best about summer.

13. Host a dance party.

Tune in to Pandora, Spotify, or your favorite radio station and dance. Simple as that.

Ask your kids to show you their moves.

14. Let your kids put on a show.

Magic shows, puppet shows, dances, or jokes–kids of all ages love to entertain their parents with silly shows.

15. Let your kids have unstructured time.

When kiddos entertain themselves, they learn to daydream, be independent, and creative.

Plus, we all could benefit from remembering that not every minute of the day needs to be scheduled.

Look at you nurturing mindfulness at a young age.

16. Ride bikes.

Get everyone moving with a family bike ride. Good exercise for everyone and something you can do at every age.

Not only is hiking a great exercise (especially with hills) but is also is a great way to explore nature with the kids.

Don’t forget to pack a backpack and have lunch at your hiking destination.

18. Take a trip to see animals.

Whether you head to a zoo or nature center, let your kids enjoy and learn about animals of all types.

Plus, you will spend a lot of time on your feet which is good for the whole family.

19. Grab some sidewalk chalk.

I used to spend hours when my kids were little creating art on the driveway.

The rain would wash it away and we would start over, or we would make our driveway into a game area by drawing four square, hopscotch and agility ladders.

20. Bake together.

Show your kids that desserts can be healthy. Talk to them about real ingredients like honey instead of artificial sweeteners.

Soon they will see that healthier desserts can be made at home and don’t come out of a box.

21. Grab a ball, Frisbee or kite and head to a park or field.

Bored of the backyard? Head to a park and kick a soccer ball or toss a Frisbee with your kids.

Take advantage of a windy day by flying a kite. Once you finish, you can explore the park too.

Bonus for you and all of those steps you are racking up.

22. Take a picnic lunch.

Who doesn’t love to eat a meal outdoors? Make it a fun activity by making a healthy lunch with the kids and letting them help pack it up.

Cut up veggies and make some hummus. Fill a container with some fresh fruit.

Eat lunch on your deck or put a picnic blanket down in the backyard. If you want, head out in the car to picnic at a nearby lake or park.

23. Break out the sprinkler or Slip and Slide.

I know you remember your days of using a Slip and Slide. Running, splashing and sliding what could be more fun?

Or give the kids some sprinkler time. If you have wee ones, you can’t beat a baby pool for some shrieks of laughter and splashes in the water.

24. Jump rope.

Jumping rope is great plyometric workout for you and it’s so fun for your children.

Get a few jump ropes so you all can jump together or see who can jump the longest.

25. Climb trees.

With a little supervision, tree-climbing is good for the muscles, gives kids a sense of accomplishment and it is fun to do.

26. Build a tree-fort.

Depending on your vision for your tree-fort and your carpentry skills, this could be a summer-long project.

Add a ladder and it becomes good exercise for the kids too.

27. Play kickball.

I remember hours of time devoted to kickball.

You can give other parents a break (and hopefully they will return the favor) and have your kids’ friends over, form teams and play away.

28. Make juice.

Your kids just might be amazed that you can make your own juice and with lots of crazy things they might not expect, like carrots.

New to juicing? I’ve got you covered with my Beginner’s Guide to Juicing.

29. Host a car wash.

Nurture your aspiring entrepreneur. Plus, it takes a lot of energy to wash a car by hand.

30. Turn cups of water into a fun game.

Have fun in the backyard by seeing who can balance a cup of water on their head without spilling.

31. Camp out in the backyard.

Teach a love for the moon, stars and the great outdoors by setting up camp in your backyard.

Flashlights and giggling encouraged.

32. Blow bubbles.

I don’t about you, but there’s something magical about watching your little ones chase after a yard full of bubbles or try and blow their own bubbles.

33. Set up a lemonade stand.

Teach your little ones about the concept of money by letting them host their own lemonade stand.

34. Play miniature or putt-putt golf.

Enjoy the warm weather with a game of miniature golf or putt-putt with your kids.

It’s a lot more fun than typical putting drills and it works on hand-eye coordination. You just might discover a talented little golfer in your family.

You can also try a family golf lesson (here’s some chipping drills, how to fix a slice, and the proper golf grip to get you started)!

35. Head to the beach.

Go in search of sand to build the biggest sand castle ever or dig the biggest hole.

36. Make water balloons.

Water fun and chase all wrapped up in one activity. Your kids will love it and you will love the very little clean-up.

37. Go boating.

Make the most of your canoe, rowboat, sailboat, or motorboat by getting out in the water with your kids.

Your kids will love being little helpers (well, most of the time, right?).

Older kids? Pull out those paddle boards.

38. Have fun in the mud.

You know you love those mud runs as an adult for a reason … you probably loved playing in the mud as a kid.

Let your kids get dirty in the mud by making mud pies.

39. Take pictures of nature.

Your kids have probably discovered your iPhone and they probably want to use it.

Go on a walk to appreciate nature by letting your kids take pictures of what they see and think is beautiful.

40. Learn to DIY.

Are you crafty or want to be? Try a weekly craft with your kids. Here’s an awesome Buzzfeed list of DIY projects you can do to prevent boredom.

41. Make popsicles or ice treats.

Popsicles are so easy to make and they are a fun and refreshing afternoon snack.

Or you can take my favorite, watermelon, mash it up a bit and put it in a cup in the freezer for an icey-snack.

42. Go to the library.

If you can walk to your local library, even better.

Show your kids how books and relaxation can be fun by letting them check out books of their interest and having designated reading time each day.

Use a hammock in your yard as their new reading corner.

43. Make a music list.

Music motivates. Let your kids work with you to create their own playlist and let them groove or play to their favorite tunes.

44. Sign up to a family 5K.

Summertime has lots of family-style 5ks where little ones and even dogs and strollers are encouraged on race day.

Your kids won’t forget wearing their own race bib and jogging next to you as they cross the finish line.

45. Help with yard work.

Little kids love to pretend they are mowing the lawn with daddy.

While it’s harder to recruit the troops for help as they get older, you can turn your yard into active family time with small projects where everyone can pitch in.

Check things off your to-do list and active time too.

Go high on the activity and low on the whining by trying some of these healthy activities. You just can’t put a price tag on the value of teaching your kids a healthy lifestyle and active life.

With a little creative-thinking, you can make this summer your healthiest yet!

Watch the video: Physical, Mental, And Overall Health Benefits Of Regular Exercise - How Exercise Improves Health

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