With the hot days and bright sunshine of summer right around the corner, the kids will soon be out of school. It's, unfortunately, easy for all of us to fall into a lazy summer routine. Once the demands of school go away, like the need to be up early in the morning, keeping up your children's level of physical activity isn't always easy. After all, the comfort of the air-conditioned indoors is often preferable to sweating outside. Nonetheless, getting them out and about and playing with more than just screens is essential to developing a healthy mind and body. So what can you do?

The simplest solution is to put in some effort at making playing outside fun for your kids. Simply saying "Go play outside" isn't very motivating. Instead, why not get involved and have some fun too? Not only can you organise all kinds of fun and games for your children, but you can invite their friends along, too. Today we're going to take a look at some fun outdoor games and activities you can put together to get the kids playing and exercising. They'll have so much fun that they won't even realise they're getting their exercise. As a bonus, you can make them forget all about video games, too.

A Soccer Ball is all it Takes for Healthy Fun



First things first: there's no easier way to have fun outside than with a soccer ball and some open space. Whether it's just you and your children or a whole group of kids you can still have fun. Even small backyards often have enough room to chase the ball around and set up some makeshift goals. A nearby park, if available, is even better. There's no need to stick to formal rules; as long as you're encouraging everyone to run around and play fair, that's all that matters! Not only is this a straightforward and inexpensive way to get the kids exercising, but it's good for them, too. Not only does it promote physical fitness, but it fosters cooperative and communicative skills as well.

For growing children that's an essential factor. The teamwork that soccer builds can have a long-lasting impact. If you want to go the distance, consider organizing a small tournament for your children and their friends. Provide healthy snacks and refreshments to help them beat the heat as they compete for some small prize. Don't forget to encourage everyone just for putting forward their best effort, though. Of course, the structured game isn't the only thing you can do with a soccer ball. Why not make up your own games involving the ball as well? The simple game of "keep away," where someone with the ball tries to prevent others from taking it, is a good example.

Keep away is another outdoor game which can inspire a great deal of competitive spirit while also encouraging physical activity. A little bit of creativity and a simple ball is all it takes for children to have fun outside. Speaking of home-made games, though, let's take that concept a step farther.


Home-made Games are Fun and Exciting for Everyone


There are plenty of other backyard games you can come up with as well. Don't limit yourself to thinking of physical activity and exercise as being the sole domain of sports. There are plenty of other ways to get the kids moving and having fun at the same time, too. All it takes is a little effort to engage their imaginations ? and a little bit of creativity on your part, too. First, let's think about what you could do with a home-made scavenger hunt.

A scavenger hunt is an event you can do at several different scales. It can be as small as your backyard or as large as a coordinated neighbourhood effort. If you live around lots of other parents, don't be afraid to make some calls to set up something like this. Come up with a list of items or actions that the children need to perform for points. If you have enough participants, break them up into teams. Give them a time limit that is generous but not too long and turn them loose to try and complete their list. You'll be amazed at how deep into the competitive spirit kids can be with this activity.

In a similar vein, you could set up a physical challenge course in your neighbourhood or backyard. Challenging the kids to complete an obstacle course works out their mind and body together. From strengthening muscles and improving balancing ability to developing coordination skills, there are plenty of benefits. Constructing your obstacle course is easy; using household materials and objects is all it takes.


Why not Have a Miniature Swimming Competition?



If you have access to a pool, whether your own or a community location, you have even more options. Organise your very own swim meet, or just turn a day at the pool into a day of fun with some small competitions. Challenge your kids to see who can swim the fastest from one end of the pool to the other.

Likewise, ask them to compete at seeing who can keep swimming the longest until they are tired. Swimming builds up children's bodies and is an excellent physical activity. Besides?who doesn't love splashing around in the pool on a hot summer day? Pool toys can also offer ways to create fun competition. For example, rings or sticks that sink to the bottom are excellent fun. The kids will have a blast diving down to see who can collect the most at once. Balls are also a good idea. Chasing after a ball skipping around the water's surface is very vigorous exercise! You could even tie the swim events to the Olympics. Let's talk about those, too.


Rio 2016 is Here, Throw Your Own Backyard Olympics



The Summer Olympics are always an exciting event. With dozens upon dozens of nations from around the world gathering in one place to compete for the gold, it's one of the best global traditions. The chances are good that your children will take an interest in the events. After all, the individual stories and the drama of the competition are very compelling. Why not recreate Rio 2016 right at your own home? You can fashion "medals," come up with a roster of events, and invite the children of the neighbours over to join in the festivities.

Think of the enormous variety of possible events: track and field, swimming, and soccer are just a few of the possibilities. You could even lump all of the other activities we've discussed so far together under this umbrella. That way you can transform those activities from something you do on one day into a summer-long extravaganza. Don't forget to mix in plenty of encouragement and positive reinforcement as you go through each event, though. No one should feel left out! For an added connection, consider timing your activities to the actual Rio schedule.

Matching up what your child does in the afternoon with what they see athletes doing on TV could inspire them. An inspired child doesn't need much of an extra push to get out and exercise! The possibilities of matching up fun and games with Rio 2016 are almost endless. What event is your favorite?


No matter what you choose, don't forget to enjoy yourself


The world is your oyster when it comes to getting your kids to exercise over the summer. While you might think it will be hard to peel them away from their games and movies at first, in reality, it's easier than you think. All that matters is making the activities seem fun, appealing, and engaging. Plus when you have refreshments like cool water or even a frozen treat for them, the heat won't seem so bad after all.

From a backyard obstacle course to your very own summer Olympics, your imagination is the only limit. You can even tap into the most valuable source of inspiration when you need: your kids! Don't forget to ask them what they would like to do as well. Once you're in the new summer routine of playing around outside, they'll be eager to join in the planning process. Make it a family affair! Summer fitness is a snap after that. Let your kids enjoy their time off the most natural way ? with sunshine and exercise.