With parents feeling the pinch, many are relying on the great outdoors to keep their children entertained during half terms and weekends. Helen Skelton, North Ridge ambassador, has shared her top tips to help kids enjoy the outdoors, as well as the benefits of spending time outside.
Helen Skelton, GO Outdoors’ North Ridge ambassador, comments: “The outdoors is hugely important for improving physical health and mental wellbeing. As an opportunity to unplug from the distractions of technology, spending time outdoors with your family will create new positive shared experiences.
“Outdoor activities like treasure hunts and wildlife spotting can be especially beneficial for children as they stimulate creativity and problem-solving skills while allowing the whole family to benefit from the health advantages of spending time outside.”
“While the British weather can be temperamental, adding layers and wearing suitable waterproof clothing will ensure your time outdoors is not dampened by cold temperatures or rainfall.”
1. Reduced anxiety levels– Nature has a calming effect and can help reduce worries and anxiety in your family. Without the distractions of digital media, the whole family can benefit by spending time outdoors.
2. Increased movement– Spending time outdoors gives your family more chances to move around and expend energy. This will not only improve your physical health but can aid your family’s sleeping patterns as exposure to natural light helps regulate sleep cycles.
3. Vitamin D exposure– Vitamin D is a key component in helping to protect your bones by improving the body’s absorption of calcium. Spending time outdoors will boost your vitamin D levels, which is particularly important for children who need vitamin D for bone growth and development.
4. Strengthens the immune system– Fresh air can help improve respiratory health and strengthen the immune system, so it is important to make time as a family to head outdoors. Something as simple as a family walk will help ensure your family benefits from the immune-boosting qualities of the outdoors.
5. Encourages an active lifestyle– Getting outside will encourage your family to pursue an active lifestyle, minimizing sedentary habits and any associated health issues. This will help improve coordination, balance, and mood, all while strengthening your family’s bond and making life-long memories.
1. Hit your local nature trails– Wrap up warm and immerse yourself in nature by heading to the local park. You can find a suitable route for your family online, whether that be a shorter or longer walk. Afterwards, you can ask what everyone thought about the walk and compile a list of your family’s favourite destinations.
2. Go for a bike ride– From short loops to more difficult trails, we’ve found that getting out on a bike ride is an easy and fun way to incorporate exercise into a family bonding experience. Kielder Forest in Northumberland is a great route. Top tip… make sure the snack bag is well filled.
3. Make some outdoor crafts– Creating outdoor art is a great way to boost creativity and spend some time in the fresh air, all while adding an exciting twist to basic crafting activities. Try collecting rocks, twigs and pinecones and use them to paint with.
4. Try geocaching– A type of outdoor treasure hunt, geocaching involves a range of hide-and-seek games the whole family can get involved in and is a great way to get older children excited about spending time outside.
5. Don’t be put off by the weather– British weather is unpredictable, but the right clothes will help. If you are prepared for rainy and cold days with hats, coats and gloves, you can still ensure your kids don’t spend all their free time glued to a screen.