Mark your calendar for Saturday, June 12! The second Saturday in June each year is Family Health & Fitness Day. It’s a great reason to get outside to explore your local parks and get your family moving.
As we welcome summer weather, many of us are looking forward to spending more time outside. There are lots of good reasons to do so. Research shows that spending time outdoors relieves stress, strengthens relationships and improves mental health. Living close to parks has even been linked to higher levels of physical activity in both kids and adults.
But you don’t have to have a park in your backyard to reap the benefits. Whether you’re hiking in a state park or scootering around your neighborhood playground, there are so many ways to get active and enjoy nature. With a little planning, you can reduce the risk of injury while your family explores the great outdoors.
Outdoor Activities for Families: Avoiding Injury
For many people, activity levels dropped during the coronavirus pandemic. Yet getting outside may be more important than ever. Exercise is important for a healthy body and mind. And spending time outdoors is a safer way to connect with others, especially for people who aren’t fully vaccinated yet.
There are good reasons to make exercise a family affair. A whole-family hike or bike ride brings people together and gives you an opportunity to connect with your kids — without screens in the way. And when kids see their parents engaging in regular physical activities, they’re more likely to make fitness a habit in their own lives.
You don’t have to be an athlete or an explorer to make the most of outdoor activities. Family Health & Fitness Day is a great excuse to launch a new routine.
If you’re new to outdoor activities, keep these tips in mind to avoid injuries and stay safe outside:
- Start small: Don’t plan a 10-mile wilderness hike if you’re not used to exercising. Try starting with something less intense, like a 20-minute walk each evening. As you all get used to being more active, make your walks longer or pick more challenging activities.
- Check your shoes: Hiking in flip flops or biking barefoot is a recipe for injuries. Make sure you and your kids have appropriate, well-fitting footwear to avoid tripping and falling or spraining an ankle.
- Invest in equipment: Kids should wear helmets during activities like biking, skateboarding and riding scooters. In the urgent care clinic, we also see a lot of wrist injuries from kids taking a spill off their scooters or skateboards. Wrist guards can help protect against those injuries.
- Avoid bites: Ticks can spread illnesses like Lyme disease. When you’re outside in wooded or grassy areas, take steps to avoid tick bites: Wear long pants and socks to limit exposed skin. Consider treating clothes with the insecticide permethrin, which repels ticks. And check your clothes and body carefully for the presence of ticks after spending time outside.
- Take care near water: Drowning is a top cause of death and injury in children. To avoid tragedy, make sure you always have your eyes on your children when swimming or playing near water — even if there’s a lifeguard on-site. Outfit your kids in US Coast Guard-approved life jackets. And consider signing them up for swimming lessons, so they can get comfortable with the water and learn water safety basics.
Inova Urgent Care
By planning ahead, you can reduce the odds of getting hurt while exploring the great outdoors. But sometimes, accidents happen.
Urgent care is a great option for treating minor injuries like sprains and strains, possible fractures or cuts that need stitches. Our in-person urgent care locations have X-ray services to diagnose possible fractures. Not sure if you need to be seen by a doctor? Telehealth appointments can be a good first step to evaluate an injury. During a video chat, we can help decide if you need to see a doctor in person.
In person or on video, our healthcare providers will make sure you get the care you need so that you can heal from your injury — and get back out for your next adventure.
For same-day in-person or virtual medical care for minor illnesses, injuries and more, find an Inova Urgent Care location.