Health tips for group gatherings in state park

November 29, 2011 4:43:27 PM PST
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that family reunions are a great time to "start or pass on healthy traditions that will last for many generations." Some of their tips include sharing family health histories and being active in the outdoors by walking, hiking, dancing, or playing sports.

According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children, unstructured outdoor play is a vital part of childhood. It reduces stress and restlessness in kids and sharpens their listening and spatial skills. Your family's youngest members can have a chance to come together and bond with cousins in our State Parks while developing key parts of their brains.

Outdoor play gives the children in your family a chance to develop their cognitive abilities. Be a part of your family's next generation's genius by getting involved in their unstructured learning. The National Association for the Education of Young Children says that children need "caring and knowledgeable adults to guide and be a part of their play experience." Be the one to teach your nephew how to skip rocks in the lake, or take your younger cousins out for a hike before dinner.

Avoid the arguments this holiday season and just take a walk down a scenic state park trail with the family: a recent study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that being out in nature makes people nicer. The study found that increased time in nature makes people nicer and "enhances social interactions."

Unplug to improve eyesight: a 2005 study by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation found that the "average American child spends 44 hours a week (more than 6 hours a day) staring at some kind of electronic screen." This narrow focus can be bad for their (and your) eyes. Open up your range of vision by hiking to a scenic outlook at a state park, or navigating a boat along the waters of a public lake.

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