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April has been coined "Let's Get Outside!" month. The goal is to remind us all to celebrate our bonds of family and friendship by getting outside together to be active, enjoy life and connect with nature.

You may love the outdoors, but you may have friends or family members that just prefer to lounge in front of the TV or who may be a little bit squeamish about bugs, baiting hooks, mud and dirt or heights. Of course you love them anyway—but what better time to give them that little nudge to join you for some fresh air? Whether it’s hiking, canoeing, fishing, swimming, bird watching—or just having a picnic and enjoying nature—getting outside with your loved ones in our shared resources is the perfect way to celebrate.

Let's Get Outside! Things to Do in Grand Prairie: 

  1. Join Mayor Ron Jensen for Cyclin' with the Mayor, a community bike ride at Lone Star/Campion Trail (6-mile and 12-mile routes) at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 13.
  2. Participate in the Get Fit Run for Shelter 5K and "Chase the Chiefs" 1-Mile Fun Run at 8 a.m. on Saturday, April. 23, 2016. Register online!
  3. Visit Grand Prairie Loyd Park for a day outing or overnight camping. Park amenities include cabins, picnic areas, pavilions, boat ramp with trailer parking, boat dock, volleyball and softball field, swimming beach, hiking, biking and equestrian trails, paddling trail, and canoe and kayak rentals.
  4. Plan a day at the lake at Lynn Creek Park and Marina open March–September.
  5. Golf at beautiful, top-ranked golf courses.
  6. Challenge yourself to Disc Golf at Turner Park (at Belt Line Rd. and Tarrant Rd.), a popular disc golf course that weaves through hills and trees.
  7. Spend a day of outdoor bargain hunting at Traders Village, "The Famous Texas Flea Market."
  8. Walk, run or bike on one of Grand Prairie's trails
  9. Walk your dog at Central Bark, an off-leash dog park for people who love dogs.
  10. Visit Grand Prairie Farmers Market for weekly shopping and special events April–December.
  11. Take your kids for a day in the summer (May 28-30, June 4-Aug. 21, Aug. 27-28, Sept. 3-5) to Splash Factory, an interactive water playground with age-specific play areas including a water wall, ground sprays, magic mist, fountains and more.

Why Get Outside and Get Active?

Happy Children PlayingPhysical activity is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. In combination with healthy eating, it can help prevent a range of chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and stroke, which are the three leading causes of death. Physical activity helps control weight, builds lean muscle, reduces fat, promotes strong bone, muscle and joint development, and decreases the risk of obesity.

Children need 60 minutes of play with moderate to vigorous activity every day to grow up to a healthy weight.

If this sounds like a lot, consider that 8 to 18 year old adolescents spend an average of 7.5 hours a day using entertainment media including TV, computers, video games, cell phones and movies in a typical day, and only one-third of high school students get the recommended levels of physical activity.

To increase physical activity, today’s children need safe routes to walk and bike ride to school, parks, playgrounds and community centers where they can play after school, and activities like sports, dance or fitness programs that are exciting and challenging enough to keep them engaged.

For kids and teens (that’s anyone between 6 and 17 years), your goals are:

  • Physical activity: You need to be active 60 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week, for 6 out of 8 weeks. As an alternative, you can count your daily activity steps using a pedometer (girls’ goal: 11,000; boys’ goal: 13,000).
  • Healthy eating: Each week, you’ll also focus on a healthy eating goal. There are eight to choose from, and each week you will add a new goal while continuing with your previous goals. By the end of the six weeks, you’ll be giving your body more of the good stuff it needs.

Family Playing BasketballFor adults (that’s anyone aged 18 and older), your goals are:

  • Physical activity: You need to be active 30 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week, for 6 out of 8 weeks. As an alternative, you can count your daily activity steps using a pedometer (goal: 8,500).
  • Healthy eating: Each week, you’ll also focus on a healthy eating goal. There are eight to choose from, and each week you will add a new goal while continuing with your previous goals. By the end of the six weeks, you’ll be giving your body more of the good stuff it needs.

Warmer weather brings a greater opportunity to get outside and be active! By being active, you will burn calories that you store from eating throughout the day and—it can be as easy as walking the dog or as rigorous as running a marathon. Providing opportunities for children to be active early on puts them on a path to better physical and mental health. It's never too late to jumpstart a healthy lifestyle.

Sources: Walkingmountains.org, letsmove.gov, recreation.gov, fitness.gov