Skip to content

Let Kids Be Active Outside

2011 November 17

By Lina Younes

Recently my daughter’s elementary school started a program to encourage students to increase their physical activities outdoors. The program entitled “Fun, Fit and Grow” is largely modeled after the First Lady’s Initiative, Let’s Move. The main objective is to promote healthy bodies and a lifetime full of fun and fitness. To be successful, the school is asking students to keep a log of their daily activities outside of the school in order to earn points for their class. Students are encouraged to elicit the participation of their family members in the program to earn additional points. Parents have to sign the log weekly to attest that the recorded hours of activities for children and family members are accurate.

It was interesting to see that the guidelines clearly state that virtual games are not allowed as a substitute for physical activities and sports. While technology is helping many to get up and move through numerous interactive games, there is no doubt that electronic gadgets are not the ideal replacement for a brisk walk outdoors.

So, what did we identify as our family outdoor activity?  Well, first, we took a family walk around the neighborhood. As our second activity, we decided to rake leaves. It was listed as one of the recommended activities and we definitely had a good supply of leaves all over the yard. So, through our joint effort, we got some exercise, clean up around the yard, and had fun.  Furthermore, eliminating the dead leaves from the lawn also has an environmental benefit.  It allows the lawn to “breathe” plus it enables sunlight, nutrients and water to revitalize the grass and their root systems.  What did we do with the raked leaves?  Well, we made a leaf pile for composting.  I say it was a win-win for all.  I guess we have our work cut out for us for next weekend.  There is still a good supply still on the trees that will need to be raked soon.

What do you do to enjoy a beautiful fall day? We would like to hear from you.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves as acting associate director for environmental education. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations 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.

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.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

7 Responses leave one →
  1. tap permalink
    November 17, 2011

    It is refreshing to see a school encouraging not only the student to become healthy and active, but also the students family. It is often discouraging how much pressure and responsibility we assert on our school teachers. We expect them to teach our students, prepare them for standardized testing, and also make sure they are not becoming part of our childhood obesity crisis.

    It is alarming to look at the number of American children becoming more and more overweight. In a time where we are trying to maintain competitive with China and other countries, it is difficult not to rationalize cutting recess and physical education. After all, isn’t intelligence and remaining competitive on a global scale more important than being “skinny”? Or is it more a question to the effectiveness of the teaching styles of America? Afterall, we are one of the heaviest nations in the world. Many countries who produce some of the smartest youth do not have the weight problems we do. Often these youth are doing more rigorous work and intellectual activities. This would hardly leave these youths excessive time to exercise. These are all questions that do not have clear cut answers.

    However, I commend your daughter’s elementary school for developing a program that encourages both youth and their families to “get moving”.

  2. Ed Best permalink
    November 17, 2011

    Kids love the outdoors and they also love yard sales. Why not take them to one this weekend. Get blog I enjoy it.

  3. Tim Burnany permalink
    November 17, 2011

    Very good point. I run the blog iphone apps and while I appreciate all that computers have done for us, it is great for our kids to get outside. Honestly, sometimes I feel guilty reviewing apps because of this, but you have shown me that balance is key.

    Very insightful post. Thank you for your conviction.

  4. S.B.Hall permalink
    November 20, 2011

    Approximately 32 percent of children and adolescents ages 2 to 19 years are overweight or obese, with 17 percent of children being obese. Obese children are at greater risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes9; breathing problems such as sleep apnea and asthma, joint problems, musculoskeletal problems, fatty liver disease, and gallstones. Not only does obesity increase the likelihood of a child developing these types of serious physical issues, but it may also lead to severe psychological and social problems, such as absenteeism from school, discrimination, and poor self-esteem. Eating patterns established in childhood often track into later life which is why nutritional education in grade schools are so important. I think this is an excellent program I hope that more schools follow its example. I believe that family education is a key element in fighting against the obesity epidemic. Being knowledgeable is the first step to leading a healthy active lifestyle.
    I think that apple picking would be a good family activity to do in the fall; great exercise and great snack! :)

  5. katie taylor permalink
    December 2, 2011

    letting children play outdoors not only improve their physical strength but also their immunity. Ledger Leads

  6. Dominic permalink
    February 19, 2012

    Great post I have 3 kids and constantly push them to go outside and be physical. health and fitness for kids is a blog site that I have created to help parents in the journey to keeping there kids healthy.

  7. Dr Davis Griffin permalink
    September 9, 2012

    Nice informational post. I myself have kids and they always love to play outside and stay physical, keeping there bones healthier and stronger. We home come to get to create different health programs for nutrition and fitness for children and adults to stay healthier. Great blog, hope to see more!

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS