Spring 2013
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Explore the Outdoors


Children are natural explorers, curious about their surroundings and full of questions. Spending time outdoors offers plentiful opportunities to see and experience new things. And it may be a smart way to incorporate more physical activity, more family time and less screen time into your routine.

Growing research suggests there are many benefits to spending time outdoors, most notably the calming effect it offers. Even hospital patients whose rooms have a window to the outdoors are proven to recover more quickly than those placed in rooms without a view.

Instead of turning on the television after dinner, try walking together with your family around the neighborhood. Walking is great exercise and boasts plenty of benefits: improved cholesterol, lower blood pressure, a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, increased strength and it improves your mood. It also offers a great time to talk with your children about their day.

Additionally, research suggests that regular, brisk walking can reduce the risk of heart attack as effectively as more vigorous exercise, such as jogging.

"If you're new to the outdoors or a bit lost for where to start, there are many resources to connect you with local programs, activities, parks and even things to do in your own backyard," said Dr. Stephen Pont, MPH, FAAP, medical director, Texas Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Childhood Obesity. "City benches and urban parks offer wonderful spaces to observe nature. Bugs, birds and twigs can be found anywhere even just outside your window. My friends at Texas Parks and Wildlife, lead great programs like Texas Outdoor Family which provide training and equipment to easily introduce or re-introduce you and your children to camping."

One of the top benefits for exploring and exercising outdoors is the cost. Activities are very affordable and many are free.

Are you ready to try it and see for yourself? Wondering how to get started?

The following are a few resources to help you plan a successful outdoor adventure:

Biking is another great outdoor activity. But before your kids wheel off down the street, read these tips to help keep them safe.

Explore the Outdoors

Good Health for Kids is produced by Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas.