The Importance of Physical Activity

Physical activity helps improve the health of everyone, regardless of their age or fitness level. It’s especially important, though, for children’s growing bodies and minds. Regular physical activity improves children’s heart health, strengthens their muscles and bones, and it can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression! 

Using Their Screen Time for Good

Instead of sitting in front of a television or tablet after dinner, make the most out of your child’s screen time. Here are some of my favorite apps and activities that help get families active!

  • 7 Minute Monster! This app gives 7-minute workouts for kids led by a fuzzy orange monster. There are free workouts and for $7 you get all the workouts. I showed it to some school-aged kids, and they got pretty excited. There’s also an adult version to get us parents up and moving.
  • Super Stretch Yoga! In this app, an animated superhero leads kids through breathing and stretching exercises with fun animated characters and real kids doing the stretches. Turn off the webcam for a few minutes and join in between meetings.
  • Zombies, Run! Is there a kid alive that doesn’t like zombies? This is a lot of fun! Take your phone with you and take a walk or run outside. This app will give you a story as you walk, and occasionally zombies will come chasing after you in the story, motivating you and the kids to run from the incoming zombies!
  • Geocaching! Download the app and find hidden geocaches right in your neighborhood. This is literally a worldwide treasure hunt, that is a lot of fun for kids and adults. Your phone will navigate you to find hidden treasures near you.

Activities Outside

One of the many ways to stay active is to get outside! Colorado is known for its beautiful outdoor scenery and is a great backdrop for any fun activities your family may plan. 

  • Trails galore! Check out our local nonprofit, Trails and Open Spaces Coalition, online at trailsandopenspaces.org. Their website has a great page called Get Out Spread Out. There, you’ll find a map of the Pikes Peak Region with links to parks and trails. You can click on a location and see maps of nearby parks, along with pictures from the park to see if it would be a good fit for your family. Discover a new outdoor gem nearby or venture a little further with your family for a walk, hike, or bike ride!
  • Go old school with sports! A field and a Frisbee or soccer ball is a great way to get kids running, laughing, and out of the house! On a windy day, you could try to get a kite in the air. 
  • Enjoy the snow! Don’t be afraid to bundle up and build a snowman, find a hill and go sledding, or enjoy the (socially-distanced) ice skating downtown Colorado Springs. For older kids, and a bigger adventure, your can rent snowshoes and head to the mountains to try walking in fresh snow. 

It’s never too late to start integrating physical activity into you and your family’s lives. I hope these ideas provide some fun and healthy options for you in 2022!

Dr. Elisabeth Vanse is a pediatrician at Peak Vista Community Health Centers. Dr. Vanse is passionate about providing health care to families who have experienced barriers. “I strive to help patients and families feel understood and convey empathy,” comments Dr. Vanse, “I want each visit to be a time that families feel their needs are addressed.” In her spare time, Dr. Vanse likes to hike, mountain bike and spend time with her two teen daughters.

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