Plan nature walks or other things to do with kids this weekend.

Singapore has the highest percentage of bespectacled kids in the world, according to a 2012 study[1]. One of the main causes is the lack of time spent in the great outdoors: kids in Singapore only spend three measly hours as compared to children in Sydney who get 14 hours. Here are four activities that’ll help to reduce your kids’ screen time.

Related: 9 Health Hazards of Electronic Devices for Kids

Sandcastle-Building, a Fun Activity for Kids

Engage in some fun outdoor activities on the beach.

You may think that playing with sand is a passive pastime. However, children engage their upper bodies when they scoop, dig and pour sand while squatting works their legs, glutes and calves. With the constant running to and from the water’s edge to get buckets of water for the sandcastle’s moat — it’s a whole body workout! Hand-eye coordination is also enhanced through the use of the sandcastle building tools like shovels and chiselling sticks.

Sandcastle building is a great way to spend quality family time. Parents can also use the fun outdoor activity to coach children on setting their vision, transforming their madcap ideas into realistic goals, honing their patience and concentration skills while unleashing their creativity.

To see sandcastle enthusiasts create stunning gigantic sand sculptures, head down to Castle Beach at East Coast Park (Near Carpark E2) on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Sandcastle building kits are available for sale there.

For maximum enjoyment, bring plenty of drinking water, sunscreen and a cap!

Related: 4 Trails to Hit This Weekend for a Dose of Fitness and Heritage

Strengthening Core Muscles with Stand-Up Paddling

Stand-up paddling is another fun outdoor activity your teen can enjoy.

Have a teen who’s bored of kiddy activities? Have a go at stand-up paddling or SUP, the latest sport to hit sunny Singapore, which requires one to stay upright on a surfboard while using a long paddle to move through the water.

If your teens are water-confident, this will thrill them. It is a lot less painful falling into the water, than off a skateboard onto the hard ground — which means parents can join in this activity with their children as well!

SUP requires good balancing skills, strength and an alert mind to keep one upright and the paddleboard above the waters. To propel and manoeuvre the paddleboard, all core muscles including leg muscles, shoulders, back, chest, arms and abdominal muscles have to work in unison. It’s a full-body workout but the sport is so distractingly fun that your kids won’t even know that they’re “exercising”. Over time, they’ll have a better sense of balance and coordination, increased mental alertness, heightened body awareness, better stamina and more muscle tone.

Related: Getting Fit Through Fun for kids 

Increase Your Mental Strength with Archery

Archery is a popular activity for kids.

Archery is often misunderstood as a passive sport. In reality, it is a great form of physical exercise that gives the upper body a good workout by strengthening core muscles. 

This sport is a good way to train one’s endurance and concentration skills. To excel in archery, one must be able to keep the body balanced and still while exercising the arms and fingers to draw, aim and fire the arrow.

Archery improves hand-eye coordination and flexibility of our hands and fingers. Practising archery is a great mind exercise and de-stressor as it trains one to free the mind from distractions and focus on the target. The repetitive motion of archery builds strength, muscle memory and mental strength.

For affordable archery programmes, search for “archery” at ActiveSG’s portal, where you can offset 30 per cent of the cost with your ActiveSG dollars. Programmes range from three-hour basic archery classes like Archery Fun Shoot to a three-hour Archery Family Camp for one parent and one child.

Related: Is An Activity Tracker Necessary?

Go for Nature Walks With the Family

Going for nature walks is one of the best physical activities for the whole family.

Studies[2] have shown that taking walks in nature or exploring nature trails can improve one’s physical and emotional well-being, reduce psychological stress, depressive symptoms, build mental strength and improve sleep and vitality.

Bring your children along and start exploring the many nature trails in Singapore. Start by surrounding the young ones with the sights and sounds of the forest — the chirps of birds, the songs of the cicadas, and the rustling of leaves.

If your child can walk independently, start them on paved paths or boardwalks, such as the Chemperai Trail at MacRitchie Reservoir or the easier 600m Rain Forest Walking Trail at the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

As they get older and can look out for roots and rocks, head for the longer, wilder nature trails like the Treetop Trail (pro-tip: start from the Venus Drive carpark instead of the main MacRitchie entrance for a shorter walk) or the Wallace Trail at Dairy Farm Nature Park.

Breaking the walk up with rest stops, cold drinks and snacks will motivate them to continue walking and enjoy the great outdoors.

For more trails, visit NPark's DIY Walking Tour.

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References

  1. National University of Singapore, (2012, May 21). Study sheds light on child myopia. Newshub: NUS' News Portal.
    Retrieved from http://newshub.nus.edu.sg/headlines/0512/myopia_21May12.php
  2. Jordan, R. (2015, June 30). Stanford researchers find mental health prescription: Nature. Stanford Report.
    Retrieved from http://news.stanford.edu/news/2015/june/hiking-mental-health-063015.html