Exercise doesn’t have to be restricted to indoors, in fact one of the best gyms I know is free. It’s no secret that the great outdoors is good for us, what with all that vitamin D, fresh air and open spaces.
And it’s not just adults that benefit from time outdoors, kids benefit greatly as well.
Plus - it’s great fun; there are puddles to be splashed in, ducks to be fed and mud pies to be made.
As well as taking advantage of all the fresh air and exercise, there are lots of added extras; from the trill of bird song in the trees to the first green shoots reaching up from the soil.
It’s not just our bodies that benefit from nature, our minds are sufficiently exercised as well.
Have you ever stopped and taken the time to watch an army of ants march across a tree trunk?
What about stopping to watch a blackbird overturn leaves in search of food?
You haven’t done that either?
Well, you should (trust me).
And you should certainly show all of these wonderous things to your little one. Kids love hands on activities and nature provides you with plenty of opportunities to get stuck in; it’s an amazing way for children to get to grips with sensory perceptions.
Why not think of your outdoor time as an interactive gym experience that engages your senses as
well? Take time to stop whilst your out on walks and see what’s around.
What can you see? Birds flitting through tree branches or a squirrel bounding across the grass.
What colours are there?
What can you hear?
Is the wind rustling tree leaves, or is there water babbling nearby.
What different textures can be touched? Rough tree bark, squelchy mud, or the tickle of a dropped feather.
Can you smell anything different? What does grass smell like?
Encourage your child to get stuck in and help them discover the different sensations and
experiences; lift up stones, put bare feet in grass, run around and feel the breeze through their hair (I’m pretty certain you’ll get a good work out running around after them). Ask them questions about what they’ve found, get them to choose the textures they like or the smells that make them smile.
You could also design a scavenger hunt for your next stroll. Set yourself challenges, can you find: a dropped feather, a dandelion clock, animal prints in the mud, a half-eaten nut. It’s a great way to have fun (and forget you’re even exercising)
There are plenty of ideas for no hassle outdoor activities here at the The Woodland Trust’s website.
What other gyms do you know that allow you to get exercise your body and mind at the same time for free? It’s a great way to get active and all those scavenger hunts in the fresh air are a great way to tire out the little ones in time for a nice quiet coffee break.
Jeni Bell www.seekingwildsights.co.uk Instagram: @seekingwildsights