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Encouraging Heroes. You can be one too.

Summer is the perfect time for your kids to get outside and have some fun, rather than sitting inside and watching the 3 hours of TV that the average child in the United States watches. This summer, introduce your kids to a wide variety of activities. As they discover which ones they most enjoy, encourage them to continue with these pursuits.

Biking: If your kids already have bikes, this is an easy activity to re-introduce. Otherwise, consider getting an appropriately sized bike and encouraging your child to use it. You can even get bikes for the whole family so you can go on rides together at a nearby lake or bike path.

Playing in the Yard: Your kids can get some good, old-fashioned fun by heading out to the yard to play with whatever toys they find there. Stock up on sidewalk chalk, bubbles, balls, and other small, inexpensive toys that will facilitate hours of fun. A swing set or trampoline can also be a good investment to make your yard seem more fun. You could also create a neighborhood field day with other parents to get all of the kids outside and active.

Swimming: If you already have a pool, breaking out some small toys can entertain your kids for hours. Consider pool noodles or bringing rubber ducks from bath time. If you don’t have a pool, city pool passes aren’t expensive. Interacting with other kids in the community will keep yours in the pool longer. If you don’t have a city pool or it isn’t easy to get to, consider getting your own. Inflatable pools for home have improved dramatically in the past few years, becoming bigger and deeper.

Running: You probably shouldn’t send your 6-year old out on a 5K run, but running in short bursts is great exercise for kids of all ages. Encourage your kids to play a game of tag at the park or to run as part of their play. Elementary schoolers can try a mile fun run, and older kids may be able to handle a 5K.

Hiking: The natural world comes alive during the summer, so head out to a local nature park to explore. You can enjoy identifying bugs and plants, bird watching, and reading trail maps. This is an ideal activity for the whole family to enjoy together.

Camping: Head out on an inexpensive family vacation at a campsite where you can pitch a tent, build a fire, and enjoy nature. If you aren’t up for this big of an excursion, help your kids set up a backyard camp outing instead. Sleeping in a tent in the yard is almost as much fun, and your house is available if the weather doesn’t cooperate.

Don’t let a day go by this summer when your kids don’t do something active outdoors. This will help them burn off some of their energy, stay healthy, and avoid boredom. Your encouragement is often all they need to get up, out, and moving.