Many of us think summer is the perfect time to get active. But that's not always true! With long, lazy days of summer fun, sometimes we don't work in as much physical activity into the routine as we intended. So even if you live in a part of the country in which you're starting to feel a chill in the air, right now might be the perfect time to work in regular outdoor and active fun into your family's schedule. Here's why (and how!)

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  1. Fall can be a more laid-back time than summer. Our expectations are lower for the amount of time kids spend outdoors. Although it's not always intuitive, lower expectations often make it more likely that we'll stick to our goals than setting the bar really high. Creating a goal that you'll get outside with the kids for a short walk to school instead of a two-hour bike ride will increase the likelihood that you'll stick to your new family routine.
  2. Speaking of routine, with kids back in school there is greater structure in everyone's schedules. Since you're already being better about sticking to timelines, it's easy to pencil in activities. The kids are with their friends again and everyone who went away on vacation is back, so there are more friends around for outdoor fun. Take advantage by hosting a back-to-school family field day (watch this great video for ideas) or getting the kids kicking a soccer ball around.
  3. There are more opportunities to get the kids involved in organized sports in the fall. Even if your child has never played a team sport before, fall is a great time to start. Look on your town's website or look for places where local flyers are posted. (In my town it's outside the local supermarket). There are teams forming all the time, and most of them welcome new participants.
  4. One thing I've learned is that my kids are much more likely to play outside at the school playground longer after school if I bring an extra snack with me at pickup time. (I can't pack it for them or it's gone by after school time). So I make these fast and easy homemade bars and bring a stash with me. Here is an awesome video showing how to make them. (My kids' favorite ingredient? Frosted Flakes!). I chat with the moms and the kids play with their friends. Their favorite game is jumping in a pile of leaves. Fall is so beautiful in my part of the world!

So, while some mourn the passing of summer, I love the start of fall. It's a great time to find new ways to stay active and have fun. With a little creativity you can keep the kids having fun even after school starts. Remember, the key is to squeeze in activity where you can. And, of course, to make it fun!

Image via Thinkstock

Topics: health  healthy kids  sports  advice