The Best Ways for Families to Stay Active Outdoors

Regular physical activity is crucial for kids’ health, but it doesn’t have to happen in a gym. With a little creativity, the great outdoors offers tons of opportunities to exercise while having fun and enjoying nature. From playgrounds to hiking trails, urban parks to rural landscapes, there are endless options for active outdoor adventures suitable for all ages and interests.

Playground Games and Sports

The local park or schoolyard is an obvious place to burn off energy through classic running games like tag, capture the flag or kickball. Basketball, tennis, and soccer are other easy options if your park has courts or fields. Don’t overlook playgrounds either; monkey bars, swing sets and climbing structures provide full-body workouts that build strength, flexibility and coordination skills.

Cycling Adventures

Bike riding is an excellent outdoor activity for cardiovascular fitness that the whole family can enjoy. Go for a casual cruise around the neighborhood or make a day trip to explore bike paths and trails in your area. Kids who don’t have their own wheels can often rent kid-sized bikes, trailer bikes or trail-a-bikes that let them ride attached to an adult’s bicycle.

Hiking Excursions

Lace up those hiking boots and hit the trails. Exploring hiking paths and nature preserves is an ideal way to enjoy scenic views while getting a low-impact cardio workout customizable to your preferred intensity. Pack plenty of water, snacks, and navigation tools. And take along a backpack so kids can stash cool nature finds like pinecones, feathers, or rocks along the way.

Water Fun

On hot summer days, nothing beats cooling off with water-based activities. Hit up a lake or river for swimming, canoeing or paddle boarding to get moving on the water’s surface. The people at Utah-based Canyon Sports say you can take advantage of canoe or paddle board rental to enjoy such activities without having to buy your own equipment. Water balloon games and running through sprinklers also make classic outdoor water play even more active.

Winter Wonderlands

Don’t let chilly temperatures stop you; bundle up and get moving outside. Sledding is a wonderful winter workout that also builds balance skills. Or strap on some snowshoes or cross-country skis to cover more ground through snowy landscapes. Even building a snowman or having a friendly snowball fight gets the heart pumping.

Around-Town Scavenger Hunts

Turn a neighborhood walk into an exciting scavenger hunt by creating a list of outdoor items or scenery for kids to find, like squirrels, specific trees/flowers, bird nests, garden art or architectural details. Offer small prizes to keep them motivated to scour your community for each item. This blends exercise with learning about your local environment.

Obstacle Challenges

Use cones, hula hoops and other backyard toys to construct fun obstacle courses that incorporate challenges like zigzagging between objects, crawling under ropes, jumping over hurdles, throwing, and catching balls or frisbees, and doing silly dance moves between stages. Time kids as they complete the course for extra motivation.

Camping Adventures

Immerse yourselves in the great outdoors for a weekend camping adventure. When you ditch devices and distractions, kids inevitably end up running, climbing, hiking, swimming, and exploring in creative ways that provide hours of active play. Roast marshmallows, stargaze and tell campfire stories as rewards for all their outdoor exertion.


Getting active outside beats the boredom of indoor screen time while soaking up fresh air, vitamin D, and all the mental health benefits of nature exposure. With options for every season and setting, you will find outdoor activities that will get your kids moving, smiling and working up a sweat in the sunshine.

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