The Outdoor Life: Summer Plaything Picks That Get Kids Moving Again

If Michelle Obama is a tad worried, that’s enough to nab my full attention: Last February, the First Lady launched the “Let’s Move!” campaign to fight an obesity epidemic that is jeopardizing our children’s health. Our kids come by their fat honestly—two thirds of American adults are overweight or obese, and one third of our children fit into those categories. If Moms everywhere are wolfing down chips, donuts, and soda—and I can attest to the kind of continuous stress that breeds such bingeing—why are we surprised when our little ones follow our lead? And aside from choosing differently with our forks, how can we put our children back on the path to good health?

Enter summer 2010—the perfect time to stock up on a few fat-fighting, figure-friendly playthings that also get your kids outdoor. Starting with Hide and Seek Safari Classic from R & R Games(www.rnrgames.com). Hide and Seek Safari Classic is a digital twist on the “hotter, colder” game many of us once played; the Seeker wand lights up to show your children just how close they are to the stuffed tiger—and once they’re within five feet of the tiger, the Seeker beeps.

Want to tempt your tyke to burn off a few of those cheeseburgers? Make exercise fun with the Toy Story 3 Space Shooter Game from Hasbro (www.hasbro.com). Your kids will need to stay in constant motion as they target enemy toys with the Space Ranger foam disc blaster, collect tokens, and ultimately bring their toys to safety—all while moving their buns.

If you’re going for the ultimate calorie burn, your kidshouldn’t miss the Wild Planet’s Hyper Dash EXTREME! (www.wildplanet.com). The electronic game requires that players race against time using target and a handheld unit. Set up targets on a tale or around a living room or backyard. Children zip around their makeshift racecourse (and this is the fat-slashing part) to tag their targets with the handheld unit.

One of my all-favorite offerings comes from DigginActive, a toy company that promotes a let’s-get-moving lifestyle with its products. Squap is a throwing toy in which players use a mitt to launch and catch a ball as quickly as possible—all the while exercising their arms and legs. Another toy that’ll whip your kids into shape isSwinxs, a Toy of the Year (TOTY) nominated product. Using microchip wristbands, kids stay connected to the screen-free electronic console, which interacts with them through speech and sound; the games can be downloaded (for free!) from the site (www.swinxs.com).

As part of Michelle Obama’s obesity campaign, children will be encouraged to get moving for at least an hour a day. Here’s how moms and dads can play their part in that cause: We can make the would-be chore that we call exercise feel as much like child’s play as it did back when we were kids.

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