Tag: family friendly

How to Spend More Time Outdoors

Getting outside to enjoy the great outdoors can reduce the likelihood that a person will live a sedentary lifestyle that can negatively affect long-term health. But many adults are spending too much time indoors.

In its 2014 OUT is IN national survey, the National Recreation and Park Association found that 28 percent of adults in the United States do not spend time outside daily. The survey, conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs on behalf of the NPRA, asked 1,005 adults to share their opinions and behaviors regarding outdoor time. While 35 percent of respondents said work was getting in the way of their spending time outdoors, 39 percent said their computers, tablets, smartphones, and televisions were keeping them indoors.

Though it might be difficult to cut back on hours at the office, adults do have the capacity to cut back on their screen time. Using that newfound free time to get outdoors can pay dividends for years to come, as the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability notes that the potential consequences of living a sedentary lifestyle are severe. According to the NCHPAD, one study indicated a 40 percent decrease in cancer mortality among physically active persons compared to those who were inactive. Physical activity also helps to prevent insulin resistance, which is the underlying cause of type 2 diabetes.

While you don’t need to get outdoors to be physically active, men and women who find themselves bored by workouts at the gym or at home may be more likely to embrace physical activity if they can get their exercise outdoors. The following are three great ways to spend more time enjoying all that nature has to offer.

· Take up hiking. While some hiking trails are best left to seasoned hikers, many are built for hikers of all ages and abilities. Men and women who are overweight should not be intimidated by hiking, as even the simplest trails can help them get back on a healthy track. Men and women who incorporate hiking into their regular routines can lower their risk of heart disease and improve their blood pressure and blood sugar levels. The American Hiking Society also notes that research has shown that hiking can positively affect mood by helping to combat the symptoms of stress and anxiety.

· Ride a bike to work. Adults whose homes are in close proximity to their offices may want to try riding a bike to work instead of relying on their cars or mass transportation. Cycling improves cardiovascular fitness and increases muscle strength and flexibility. In addition, the stress-relieving properties of exercise can certainly be ascribed to cycling, which may even help adults prevent stressful episodes by relieving them of the burden of sitting in rush hour traffic.

· Grow your own foods. While the cost of fruits and vegetables may not be busting your monthly budget, growing your own fruits and vegetables is a cost-effective way to find more time for the great outdoors. In addition, a study from researchers in the Netherlands suggested that gardening is better for fighting stress than reading indoors.

Nature awaits, and adults should know that some playtime in the great outdoors is not just for kids.


Make a Lunch Kids Will Devour

Children can be picky eaters, making it challenging for parents to find foods their kids will consume. Family dinners are challenging enough, but lunches kids will love can be even more difficult to come by.

Parents can prepare lunches kids are certain to devour by thinking outside of the traditional lunch box. Using some creativity and building off of kids’ favorite foods is the key.

Make it miniature

Mini versions of kids’ favorite foods can be entertaining and entice children to try things they normally wouldn’t. If it’s fun-sized, it can be swallowed in one bite. Think about mini sandwiches cut into fun shapes with a cookie cutter. Or use little condiment cups to hold chicken salad, soup or yogurt.

Offer variety

Give kids a bit of a buffet inside of their lunches. This way, if something isn’t tickling their taste buds, they still have other healthy options at the ready. This technique also ensures that kids will not get hungry after skipping meals. Lunch buffets do not have to be complicated. Include half of a sandwich, a piece of fruit or an applesauce cup, some trail mix, and a granola bar. Look for complex carbohydrates and protein so that little bellies will feel full.

Go with what works

If a child really enjoyed the previous night’s dinner, offer up a repeat for lunch the next day. Some schools have a microwave where hot foods can be reheated. If that’s not available, invest in a thermos or a durable, insulated container that can keep the foods at a comfortable temperature. Lunchtime at school occurs not too far into the day, and it’s feasible that food can still be warm if heated right before leaving the house.

Sneak in some nutrition

If kids are bound to eat the same thing over and over again, mix it up in subtle ways. Add a slice of tomato to a plain cheese sandwich and serve it on whole-wheat bread for added nutrition. Blend cauliflower into mac-and-cheese so it’s barely noticeable. Add flavor to lunch meats with a piece of bacon. Bake up nutritious cereal bars on your own that pack a nutritious punch and could have pureed fruit as the base.

Breakfast for lunch

Most kids go ga-ga over breakfast foods. Use that to your advantage, sending them in with egg-bacon-cheese bagel sandwiches, or some cereal to which they can add milk bought from the cafeteria. Thin pancakes can be rolled and stuffed with fruit in a crêpe style that makes for a tempting treat.

Rely on school lunch

School lunches shouldn’t be dismissed. When the pantry and refrigerator simply aren’t offering up the right inspiration, let children try something provided by their schools. They may like the menu, and that will save you time and effort in the morning. Plus, many school lunches are designed to be nutritionally balanced.

Picky eaters frequently make meal creation challenging. However, with some ingenuity, kids’ lunches can be enjoyed and savored.