Friday, June 8, 2007

Nature and healthy families

Family health professionals are alarmed at the trend of increased obesity among children and its obvious cause—sedentary lifestyles with little or no physical exercise and hours devoted each day to video games and computers.

For millions of children hemmed in by the concrete canyons of urban America, their confined way of life could be a plausible obstacle to outdoor recreation in the fresh air of woodlands.

But it's no excuse for families living in the midst of one of America's most spectacular wonderland of forests, lakes, hiking trails and wildlife. They can shut down the family computers and TVs and head for any of dozens of sprawling public woodlands of central Idaho to enjoy the invigorating grandeur that's virtually out of reach for so many others.

Not much effort is required to park the family car beside a stream or lake for a picnic. Or find a boat, kayak or canoe to cruise a placid waterway. Or pitch a tent for the night for total immersion in the nighttime grandeur under the moon and stars.

Pamphlets and books are available for families to carry while hiking trails to identify native plants, flowers, birds and bugs.

Turn a family outing into an adventure of the mind. Do children of the Wood River Valley know the state flower, the syringa? And the state bird, the mountain bluebird? How about the state horse (Appaloosa), state fish (cutthroat trout) and state tree (Western white pine)?

For families, Idaho's woodlands and lake country are reality classrooms about nature, plus an adventure in healthful outdoor recreation.

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