by Isaac Schock • YMCA of Okanagan
Over the past year and a half, we have all settled into different routines and created new behaviours. The Pandemic has affected each family very differently and many of us are less active than we would like to be. With limited access to resources like gyms, playgrounds or sports programs, it can be very easy to slip into a less active lifestyle.
Fortunately, we live in one of the best places to get active as a family. The Okanagan is home to endless hiking and biking trails, sport climbing areas, lakes, mountains and parks to explore. Whether you are interested in signing up for programs and classes or looking for activities that won’t cost a thing, the Okanagan has activities for the entire family.
Here are some great tips to engage the whole family and get back to building a healthy lifestyle together.
• Make an active bucket list.
The Okanagan is an amazingly diverse place to create a list of new things to experience. Try to think of beaches you want to visit, hikes you want to try or new areas you want to explore. An Okanagan bucket list will allow you to explore all this valley has to offer and create a ton of memories.
• Include other families.
Kids love playing outside! More than that, they love playing with other kids outside. Think about incorporating more activity into play dates, take them to the park or lake and incorporate pool visits into movie nights. Joining swim lessons and other activities with friends may help push children a little farther out of their comfort zone and encourage them to try something new.
• Communicate the importance of activity.
Children are products of their environment. Starting kids off on the right foot with active habits will set them up for a healthier future. Discuss how exercise helps with their mental health, sleeping habits and performance at school. Talk with them about how exercising makes them feel and what affects they notice when they aren’t as active. Communication about physical health over body image is critical as youth are growing up with increasing pressures from the media and society.
• Explore the outdoors.
Even if you have lived in the Okanagan for years there are probably countless outdoor spaces you’ve yet to explore. Spending time in nature will not only get kids active but will also give them a greater appreciation for the outdoors and inspire them to think more about the environment.
• Create active traditions.
With your friends and family think about creating an annual tradition that everyone can participate in. This could include a scavenger hunt or an annual softball game. Group events are a great way to get together with friends who you wouldn’t see regularly. Annual traditions have potential to grow and include more people year after year.
• Include yard work.
The saying rings true here; many hands make light work. Get the whole family involved. There are always small tasks that kids can help with like watering the garden or shoveling snow. It’s great exercise and the faster it gets done the more time for play there will be.
• Give active gifts.
Whether it is an item or an experience; give them a gift that encourages movement. Bikes, skateboards, lawn games, paddleboards and ski passes are all great gifts that could inspire a new passion. For birthday parties, parents will always appreciate punch passes for the swimming pool or other day passes for new activities.
• Try out a variety of drop-ins.
Parents often enroll kids in sports such as hockey and soccer which require large time commitments. Let them explore their natural talents first and take advantage of drop-in programs. Check out places that offer different sports that aren’t top of mind such as rock climbing, tennis, skateboarding or gymnastics. For kids under six, there are free drop-in programs such as Family Play Time at the Kelowna Family Y, which provides open gym time for kids to play alongside parents.
• Join the Y!
A family membership includes family swim time, swim lessons, fitness classes and access to the pool, basketball court, cardio and weight equipment and so much more. Child members also have access to heavily discounted programs like karate, summer camps, basketball, dance and tennis. Family memberships allow parents to workout or relax in the steam room while kids play supervised in childminding (for ages 0-5) or zoned in (for ages 6-10).
As we transition out of the pandemic, there has never been a better time to build active habits as a family in our own backyard.