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Northwest Specialty Hospital is privileged to operate in North Idaho, an area characterized by lakes, mountains, and plenty of open space. It is a place where families – and especially kids – can thrive. It is our pleasure to provide healthcare services to the residents of this Inland Northwest region.


Healthcare is not just about caring for the sick; it involves encouraging everyone to adopt healthy living practices. Instilling a desire for good health is especially important for children, and good habits started young are more likely to lead to a healthy adulthood. 


Many news stories discuss how America’s youth are not as fit and healthy as they once were. Did you know that child obesity rates have tripled in the last three decades? Participation in school sports has dramatically dropped – the latest statistics indicate that youth participation in sports dropped 6% in just the three years from 2019 to 2022. That may not sound like a lot, but it represents roughly 1.2 million kids. 


The reasons for this trend are multifaceted, and the pandemic lockdowns certainly did not help. But in North Idaho, where many activities are available, there’s no excuse for kids not to engage in some healthy outdoor recreation during the summer.


Get Outside!


The summers in this part of the country are beautiful, with many hours of daylight. Conditions are perfect for you to encourage your children to eschew video games, television, and smartphones this summer and explore the outdoors instead. Here are ten tips to get your kids excited about going outside:


  1. Plan Family Activities and Trips: There are simple things you can do to make outdoor adventures a regular part of your family’s routine. Biking and hiking trails are usually a short distance away, and the area has a lot of parks. Plan a picnic around hiking a local nature trail; schedule soccer, tennis, volleyball, or other games at a local park; or establish a routine of taking a family walk around the neighborhood after dinner. Be the catalyst in getting your family to appreciate the great outdoors and create lasting memories.
  2. Schedule Some Water-Themed Fun: Beat the heat with water-themed activities. You don’t need a pool; lakes and rivers are nearby. You can even organize a water balloon fight in your yard. Water play is refreshing and involves healthy physical activity, along with plenty of laughter.
  3. Try a New Sport: Introduce your children to a new sport this summer. Many local Parks and Rec departments have classes and summer leagues to explore in nearly every sport. If that does not fit into your schedule, some sports can be played with just your family; for others you can assemble a group of your children’s friends. Another benefit of sports is that they teach teamwork, sportsmanship, and skill development.
  4. Playgrounds Aren’t Just for Kids: Many parks today have some activity built-in for people of all ages, not just the little ones. Pull-ups on the monkey bars, balancing on the balance beam, or running a parkour course are challenging and fun. Try out some local parks with your children and see what you find. Some of them also have parks for your dog! 
  5. Fishing, Bird-watching, Wildlife-Viewing: Although not physically strenuous, getting outside to appreciate and learn about nature can be exhilarating and fun. There are several lakes and rivers where you can teach your children to fish and numerous wildlife refuges within easy driving distance to learn about native animals. Exploring the area and all it has to offer can awaken new interests and hobbies for your children.
  6. Hit the Hiking Trails: Explore nature and stay active by hiking local trails. State parks often have marked trails suitable for all abilities. Put on some sturdy shoes, pack trail snacks, and immerse yourself in the beauty of the great outdoors. If you are a beginner or your kids are little, start with something easy.
  7. Bike Paths: Mix up your outdoor adventures by exploring bike paths in your area. North Idaho has some of the best bike trails in the country, and you can make the trips as long or as short as you want. Let the kids lead as you pedal through the neighborhood or venture further afield. Add a fun reward destination to the trip to make it sweeter, like an ice cream shop or a beach.
  8. Plant a Garden: Even if you only have a small yard, you can find a spot to start a garden with your kids. Let them choose what to plant and where to plant it, and help tend the garden together. Gardening teaches kids valuable lessons about responsibility and self-sufficiency, and your children will learn many practical lessons about caring for vegetation and heighten their awareness of seasons and the weather. You can grow food,flowers, or both, and you will all enjoy reaping the rewards of all your hard work.
  9. Walk the Dog: Remember your furry friend! Take the dog for a walk around the block or explore new trails together. Walking the dog is not only beneficial for your pet’s health but also provides an excellent opportunity for family bonding.
  10. Stargazing: Summer nights often offer clear skies, perfect for gazing at the stars. You can lay out blankets in the backyard, or at a site away from city lights, and identify constellations together. It’s a serene and educational activity that can spark curiosity about the universe and foster a sense of wonder in your children.


This summer, make it a priority to get your kids outside and active. Whether exploring nature, playing sports, or simply enjoying time together as a family, outdoor activities promote physical and mental well-being. Your children will greatly appreciate a summer filled with activities and will look back on it fondly when school starts and as they grow older. 

Whatever outdoor activities you choose, remember to always put on sunscreen and stay hydrated by bringing a water bottle along! Make this the summer that you and your family commit to a healthy lifestyle involving outdoor activities and personal connection. If your family runs into any health issues, remember to schedule a visit with NWSH’s family medicine or pediatrics clinic so we can get you back to your summer fun.

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