Tips to make outdoor play a priority this summer

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Posted: Monday, June 16, 2014 1:00 am | Updated: 3:35 am, Mon Jun 23, 2014.

(BPT) - The school year has ended and kids are more excited than ever to get outside and play. However, as the days grow longer and summer boredom sets in, it’s easy to become uninspired during playtime and it’s tempting for families to turn to DVDs and video games as entertainment.

Keeping your kids active and playing during the summer months is important, since healthy lifestyle habits, formed through play and other physical activity, can lower the risk of obesity and its associated health issues, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Here are a few creative ways to inspire families to put down the devices and get outdoors this summer:

*Visit a national park

Many of the nation’s national parks are family friendly with the perfect combination of beautiful landscapes, fresh air, wildlife and fun recreational activities to captivate both parents and kids. These parks often feature walking or hiking trails to keep your family up and on their feet while they take in the natural scenery. A quick search online can provide many park options within an easy drive.

*Host a donate-to-play field day

Gather your neighbors or kids’ play group and organize a summer field day. Set up stations with classic games like a potato sack relay race, water balloon toss and three-legged race. Parents can man the stations or compete alongside their kids. Instead of an entrance fee, ask participants to contribute a monetary donation to a non-profit that promotes play. For example, Good Sports is an organization that helps to lay the foundation for healthy, active lifestyles by providing athletic equipment, footwear and apparel to disadvantaged young people nationwide. There’s nothing better than getting active and giving back while doing so.

*Make your own water park

Keep your family cool and refreshed while staying active by creating a do-it-yourself water park in your own yard. Simply setting up a sprinkler and putting on a swimsuit turns every game into a water game – water freeze tag, water volleyball or even water jump rope.

*Compete in a play challenge

Bring a little friendly competition into your family by starting a play challenge this summer. Let’s Play, a community partnership led by Dr Pepper Snapple to help get kids and families get active and make play a daily priority, offers a Let’s Play pledge at LetsPlay.com. Take the pledge to play a certain number of minutes each week and then compete to see who plays the most to help the family reach its goal. Create a chart to track each family member’s progress, and the person who wins gets to choose a fun activity for the whole family to participate in. Let’s Play also offers a catalogue of play ideas organized by age, group size and season to keep your family inspired.

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