There’s no secret that the lack of exercise and outdoors this past year has affected everyone’s mental health. After transitioning to a mostly virtual life, your daily walk may have become redundant, and even boring for you AND your child. If you’re like me, after months of walking through the same neighborhood park it has just become another chore.

Health professionals all agree that exercise and fresh air are key to keeping stress and anxiety lower… but how can you make the outdoors fun for the whole family? After working with families through the entire pandemic, I’ve collected a few fun suggestions for outdoor activities the whole family can take part in!

 5 Great Ideas!

1. Picnic in the park: Pack a healthy lunch and set out on a “hike” to find the perfect picnic spot in your local park. Pack a ball, and spend some time shooting hoops or playing catch afterwards. Even just setting out with a different intention (eating lunch rather than just a walk) will shake things up and make it interesting again.

2. Activity bags: Buy a hula hoop, sidewalk chalk, jump ropes, tennis racket, etc. Put your chosen activities into a “surprise box” head outdoors. Once you’re outside, your child can open the box and see all that you’ve packed for them. I’ve found that the key to keeping movement interesting is to continuously experiment with new things, and what better motivation to get outside than a “surprise.”

3. Take your kids favorite indoor activities outdoors: Does your teen like social media? Do a “photo shoot” outside. Have a child who loves animals/insects? Go on an insect scavenger hunt. Make play dough at home and take it outside to play! Bring the board games to the park. Everything doesn’t necessarily have to involve movement. Simply being outdoors is a great way to relieve some of that built-up stress.

4. Make it a family project: Depending on where you live, maybe creating a family garden is an option. Have everyone take turns caring for the plants and create healthy meals using your homegrown veggies! Maybe your child would find it fun to set up a lemonade stand at the park (fun learning opportunity too)! By creating a long-term project, your child may become more invested and excited about going out and doing it on a regular basis.

5. Try a different mode of transportation: Biking, skating, jogging, boating, swimming, etc. Maybe your child doesn’t want to walk, but perhaps a bike will do the trick! Again, experimenting is key. Plus, how fun would a family bike adventure be?

More Ideas

The list can continue. Flying kites, blowing bubbles, scavenger hunt, relay races, etc. Getting creative outdoors will make for some great moments shared by the whole family. The focus should shift from “let’s exercise outside” to “let’s have some fun and get some fresh air.” Usually… the exercise will come naturally when everyone is having fun. 


By Paytra Gessler, Certified Youth Fitness Trainer, Certified ISSA Fitness Professional

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