Outdoor activities for the whole family to enjoy
It’s that time of the year when we all like to take time off to spend with family. More free time means more days to laze next the pool, catch up on reading or see a movie. The extra leisure time also provides a great opportunity for everyone to improve their fitness levels in preparation for the New Year and prevent the dreaded school holiday boredom.
If you are spending time outdoors, always apply a good quality sunscreen to any exposed skin and wear a cap to keep the sun off your face. For younger children, choose a wide-brimmed hat to protect the back of the neck.
Use a product with a high sun protection factor (SPF). The SPF refers to how long the sunscreen will protect your skin from burning. For example, if it takes 10 minutes for your skin to start burning in the sun, a SPF 30 product will protect your skin for 30 times longer than 10 minutes.
To avoid dehydration, drink plenty of water throughout the day. Ensure that your children take in adequate amounts of fluids. To prevent heat exhaustion and heat stroke, stay out of direct sun during the hottest part of the day from 11am to 3pm.
Summer Health Benefits
- Eat raw, fresh food. Increasing your intake of raw fruit and vegetables is good for your health and eating cold food is refreshing on a hot summer day. Juice fruits and vegetables for a delicious power booster or make smoothies. Serve salads with a portion of protein, prepared as you like it
- Get some sun. You need vitamin D for healthy bones, a good immune system, the functioning of your lungs and heart and a number of other functions in the body. Although there are small amounts of vitamin D found in some foods, this isn’t enough for your body’s requirements. Your body can make vitamin D when skin is exposed to sunlight (UVB rays). Just short periods of sun exposure, without sunblock, will allow the body to make vitamin D. Don’t allow your skin to burn
- Get sweaty. Consider physical activities that will help you break a sweat. Sweating is a natural process that eliminates toxins from the body and unblocks pores. It also improves circulation and prevents overheating
What physical family activities can you consider this summer?
Walking improves your fitness and lowers risk for heart attack and stroke. A family hike is a great way to reconnect with nature, exercise, and burn kilojoules.
You don’t need to be on holiday to enjoy a hike. There are a number of locations, in close proximity to a number of the country’s major cities where you can enjoy a picturesque hike. Consider your family’s fitness levels and ages when selecting a trail. If you are a beginner, choose a 2km to 4km hike. For babies and toddlers, use a hiking carrier that fits snuggly on your back and allows your child to see the surroundings.
The correct footwear is important to prevent blisters or foot injuries, but you don’t need hiking boots initially – a good pair of takkies will be suitable for most family-friendly trails. Encourage your family to switch off their tech and practice mindfulness, being present in the moment, as they enjoy nature. Take plenty of bottled water and snacks along.
Cycling provides a great cardiovascular workout. It burns kilojoules and works your legs, buttocks and hips, without putting too much pressure on knees and ankles. A 30-minute bike ride burns around 800 to 2000 kilojoules. Cycling is good for your heart and lungs and the release of endorphins improves mental wellbeing.
For beginners, opt for cycling on a flat road or dedicated bike path. Mountain biking on uneven terrain can be tough for beginners. Ensure that your children have the appropriate safety gear. Helmets are a legal requirement in South Africa for adults and children. Helmets should be properly fitted and replaced as your child grows. When cycling during the day, always wear bright coloured clothing and reflective gear at night.
South Africa has a number of berry farms around the country that allow you to visit and pick your own berries. Blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and gooseberries ripen through the summer, depending on where the farm is located. You will receive a bucket and you can walk through the fields to pick berries at your leisure. The produce will be weighed, and you pay per kilogramme. Use the opportunity to chat to your children about the importance of healthy eating and using organic produce.