Monday, March 17, 2014

Spring is Here: Get Outside & Play!

While freezing temperatures and snow may be keeping most of the country indoors, the weather in Houston is beautiful. Time has already sprung forward by one hour. Days are longer. For Houston schools it's SPRING BREAK!. And spring officially begins on Thursday, March 20. What more could you need to make yourself get outside and play? Great ideas for outdoor fun and things to fling, of course, from Fundamentally Toys!

Growing up in the Midwest, I couldn't wait to get outdoors after being cooped up in the house all winter. At the first hint of warm spring weather, kids in my neighborhood would drag their bicycles out of the garage, dust off their catcher's mitts and softballs, or organize a game of tag or hide-and-go-seek. It felt so good to stretch our legs after a long winter's nap.

But it wasn't just about feeling good - it was good for us! We didn't think of it that way at the time, but we were active, fit, and happy from free-form outdoor play time for a fair portion of our days. Unstructured play connected us to friends and families in our neighborhoods and nature in our own yards. Getting outside and playing was simple, instinctive fun.

But kids today spend less time playing outside compared to any previous generation. Kids watch more television, are loaded with homework, and spend an increasing amount of time "playing" in front of digital devices.There are many factors pushing children toward a more sedentary lifestyle. With this unhealthy situation comes a host of physical and medical problems, such as obesity and early-onset diabetes.There is also increasing evidence that too much digital focus at a young age contributes to a lack of social skills, low attention spans, cognitive learning disabilities, and a high level of anxiety.

That's why it's important to make sure your child is getting enough physical activity in his or her life. You may be lucky and have a naturally active child who easily gravitates toward physical play. That's great. If not, your child might need a little nudge and negotiation to get off the couch. You don't have to force children into playing competitive outdoor games or strenuous sports that aren't right for their abilities or personalities, but you can encourage free-form activities that are fun and easy to do.

The advantages of a more physically active life are enormous.Through outdoor physical play, kids work their muscles, develop gross motor skills, and improve coordination, balance, and reflexes.Team games and sports encourage social interaction and help kids collaboratively problem-solve. Physical exercise releases endorphins in the brain, which in turn provide a feeling of well-being. When a child feels good, confidence builds. It's a round-robin of fun that's good for the body, mind and spirit!

Back to those ideas for outdoor fun I mentioned earlier. Stop by Fundamentally Toys in Houston's Rice Village Shopping Center this Saturday, March 22, for a day of "Get Out & Play" ideas. We'll have in-store product demos, games, contests, prizes, and savings on everything you need to totally fling yourself into spring!

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