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“The Great Outdoors”

2010 February 23

The great snow storm that hit the East Coast last week left all of us in DC wondering what to do without work, school, and many other things that were shut down due to the snow. As soon as the snow hit, I was outside. Throughout the week I was determined to get out of my apartment and enjoy the snow as much as I could. I was outside a lot, but I was not the only one! People filled the streets, walking to the huge snowball fight in the city, shoveling snow, and sledding wherever possible.

This was shocking to see, as most of the news shows urged people to stay inside. It was great to see a substantial amount of kids outside, and admittedly, a little shocking as well. I expected the kids to stay inside to watch their TVs, text on their cell phones, and play video games. However, kids filled the streets and the sledding hills.

It is important for children to get outdoors! Not only are they missing out on the beauty of the world, but perhaps it is part of the reason why there is an increase in childhood obesity.

The No Child Left Inside Act is a good start for children to get outside and learn about the environment during the school day, but it is not enough. It is important for parents to encourage their kids to go outside and play, and even better if they join them in the play! If you’re having difficulties thinking of things to do in your own backyard or neighborhood, here are a few activities I used to do when I was younger:

  • Plant a garden
  • Go on a bike ride
  • Play basketball
  • Roller-skate
  • Play in the sprinkler
  • Rake leaves
  • Walk the dog

So, the big question is what will happen when all the snow has melted away, and the power is back on, and the children are back in school and parents back at work? Will children and their parents still continue to play outside? We all made the best of the snow and had our fun, but the fun doesn’t have to stop there!

What outdoors activities do you and your children do for fun?

About the author: Nikki Reising is an intern at the Office of Children’s Health Protection. She is a sophomore studying non-profit management at Indiana University.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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9 Responses leave one →
  1. Rakeback permalink
    February 23, 2010

    Good stuff! It is important for children to get outdoors! Not only are they missing out on the beauty of the world, but perhaps it is part of the reason why there is an increase in childhood obesity.

  2. Donnamsar permalink
    February 23, 2010

    It is so important for children to get fresh air especially during the winter months when the home air is recycled continuously through the furnace filter. I remember many times being outdoors with my parents and siblings during the coldest parts of the year. Shoveling snow, sledding and just going for a walk.

    My child and I live in an apartment building where shoveling is not necessary. But, we get out and about sledding and walking. I choose to take a container of salt with me to sprinkle on the iciest places so I don’t fall, but there is not enough to damage our environment.

    My child and I both suffer from seasonal allergies and spring is awful for us. Winter causes problems also for us. The air is always enclosed in the apartment and when the wind is blowing especially hard and cold, we cover the only door to make a cocoon-like environment to stay warmer. We both find it best to get outside as much as possible to relieve our allergy symptoms. We clean and dust and vacuum and such, but we still need more fresh air than what this weather allows in our home.

    I want to do more in my community to make people aware of the benefits of being outdoors in winter weather. Is there some place I can search for information to share with my community? I would like to see a sledding party or a walking trip planned by our community that would incorporate such things as safety guidelines and checkpoints for heating back up. Any ideas would be welcome.

  3. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    February 24, 2010

    It is important for people of all ages to leave the sedintary life style behind and make the effort to get out and do things. Especially, it is important for people to go outside and do things together. It is easier to stay home and look at tv but also not very healthy. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  4. Al Bannet permalink
    February 25, 2010

    Excellent advice!

  5. Al Bannet permalink
    February 25, 2010

    As our human population grows and our city suburbs spread around the World, the “great outdoors” is shrinking. We need to peacefully reduce the human population, safely recycle 100% of all waste and garbage and protect wilderness area from economic development.

  6. wade harter permalink
    February 26, 2010

    While we got only 5 or 6 inches of snow I was able to get out and enjoy with my remaining “at home” grandson. We retrieved the skis, wake board and knee board from the lake and made us a surfboard. My grandson had a great time riding on them behind our 4 wheeler I was even brave enough to let him pull me also. You know we are never too old to enjoy the outdoors.

  7. Paula Friedman permalink
    March 29, 2010

    Snow or no snow – children need to spend time outdoors in any kind of weather. They need fresh air to grow healthy and strong. I remember when I was a child – I basically lived outside because it was always so much fun to be there with friends, we would invent so many various games and play them. Nowadays kids no longer know how to entertain themselves without all the technological devices and gadgets, which means it’s now more fun for them to be indoors with their DS, TV, computer games, etc. Kids don’t need to stress about finding something fun to do – it’s been done for them, they just start pressing the buttons and plunge into a fun virtual world. And then we see their red eyes, grayish skin, half-empty zombie-like gazes. I work at a swimming pool company and a lot of parents are among their customers. They choose to spend a ton of money for the pool installation to encourage their children to spend more time outdoors.

    Paula Friedman,

  8. Jo@Dietforgoodhealth permalink
    June 21, 2010

    Unfortunately, the obesity problem is rampant among nearly all age groups. As sad a state of affairs as it is for children, nothing will change until parents start taking control and care of their own health and lead the way by being an example for their kids.

    I learned about the obesity epidemic through the courses taught for health and wellness degree. The figures are staggering. I can only hope that some day soon…we’ll get it and maybe start taking care of our bodies and treating them with respect because we care about ourselves and we respect ourselves.

  9. Jelly Mark permalink
    July 27, 2010

    Hey Nikki, I have been researching on the childhood obesity and i come to the conclusion that most of the child suffering from obesity used to stay inside the door in any condition even its unusual things happening in surroundings. The only way to fight obesity is by knowing its symptoms, signs and causes with selective treatment. I write my blog and looking for more “signs of obesity”.

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