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Staying active outdoors during the coronavirus outbreak

It doesn’t matter if it’s a walk along the street and back again, or a visit to your local woodland or open space. A little fresh air can go a long way towards giving everyone some much needed breathing space. Spending time outside is great for your physical wellbeing, and for clearing your mind and lifting your spirits.

While the weather might be getting a little colder and the days a bit shorter, it’s still just as important that you and your family spend and enjoy plenty of time outdoors. It's also important to continue to wash your hands thoroughly when you get home, and to take some hand sanitiser with you, to keep everyone’s hands clean while you’re outside (although don't use alcohol-based hand sanitiser on babies under 1 year old). Taking these precautions means you’ll be less likely to catch or spread the virus when you’re out and about.

When you’re outdoors, don’t forget to follow physical distancing and hygiene guidelines. You can find out more on our page on coronavirus guidelines for children. You can find out more about how to keep your family safe outdoors during this time here.

Tips for staying active outside

Tip #1: Time to climb

If your little one is climbing the walls in the house, why not take away the walls by climbing trees instead? What else can they find to climb – steps, logs, or little slopes?

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Tip #2: Hot lava

A quick way to cool tempers is to get outside and pretend the lines on the pavement are hot lava. Get kids to hop, skip and jump over the lines and cracks and see who can get the furthest without stepping on any.

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Tip #3: Shadow chaser

On a sunny day, pop outside with your kids and try chasing each other’s shadows. Make someone the ‘chaser’ and give them a point for each time they catch someone’s shadow by jumping on it. Take it in turns and see who can collect the most points.

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Tip #4: Puddle jump

Even if the sun isn’t shining, you can still brighten up those rainy days by doing a little jumping in puddles. Have a competition to see who can make the biggest splash - just don’t forget those wellies and waterproofs!

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Tip #5: Drawing with chalk

We’ve all been enjoying seeing rainbows appear in windows and on pavements. If you have some chalk, why not draw a picture to cheer up other people while they’re exercising? Or mark out squares to play hopscotch?

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Tip #6: Balancing act

You don’t need fancy equipment to practise balancing – try balancing on kerbs (safely away from traffic of course!) or lines on the pavement. Who can walk the furthest without wobbling?

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Tip #7: Football fun

If you have a football fan in your house, why not have a family game? It’s fine to do this in a local park or other green space close to home as long as it only involves members of your household and follow physical distance guidelines by staying 2 metres away from other people.

Use jumpers for goalposts and have a kick about. Take it in turns being the goalkeeper and add a point for every goal scored. To make it more interesting, you can subtract a point for every missed attempt. If you fancy another footy competition why not take it in turns at keepie-uppies?

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It’s good to play

If you feel self-conscious about playing outside with your children in the current circumstances, don’t. Play is really important for children’s health and wellbeing – and it’s good for you too! Playing outdoors together will help you build a strong relationship with your children and relieve any tensions that may be building indoors. And did we mention it’s fun?

Can we take the kids to the play park?

Play parks can now reopen. Our page on sport, play and children's activities has tips on how to use play parks safely.

Can we play sport?

Our page on sport, play and children's activities explains more about the sports you can play and where you can play them.

Games you can play with another household

If you meet another household outdoors, it’s important that everyone aged 12 and over stays 2 metres apart and avoids touching the same things. This means that a lot of the games you might have played before aren’t possible at the moment, because they involve contact between players or sharing equipment. Here are some ideas for games you can play while still maintaining physical distancing. Remember that, if you’re in a 'stay at home' area, only 2 people from 2 households can meet up outdoors. Children under 12 do not count towards households or numbers when meeting outside.

Remember to keep your hands clean and only to use your own household's equipment. You could also use chalk or toys to make lines or barriers to keep everyone apart.

Our page on meeting other households has the latest guidance on meeting up.

Games to play with other households

Tip #1: Wacky races

Any kind of race is a fun way of competing without coming into contact with other people, but an animal race is especially fun for wee ones! Jump like a frog, slither on your tummy like a snake, roll in a ball like a hedgehog or run on all fours like a speedy cheetah. You could even ask the other players to guess which animal you are. Two people from the same household can also team up for a wheelbarrow race or three-legged race against the other household. Just be prepared to fall over!

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Tip #2: Follow my leader

One person acts as the leader and dances, jumps, crawls and runs in as many different ways as they can. Everyone else must follow – and if they can’t keep up, they’re out. The last person still following becomes the next leader. Remember, everyone aged 12 and over needs to stay 2 metres apart.

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Tip #3: Sports day

On your marks, get set, go – for physically distanced sports day between your households! Use sticks or jumpers to mark how far people can make it in the long jump, layout sticks for hurdles, pile up coats for high jump or set up a relay race passing a rolled up newspaper between members of the same household. Remember to stick to your own household's equipment!

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Tip #4: Water race

Each household brings a larger container filled with water, a smaller container and a sponge or towel. Put the large container at one line and the other a few metres away. The aim of the game is to fill up the second container with the water from the first container using a towel or sponge to fill as quickly as possible. Get ready to get wet!

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Tip #5: Party games

It’s time to take the party outside! Old school games like musical bumps and musical statues are great as they don’t involve any contact. Play some music and when it stops, everyone must either sit down (for musical bumps) or stay still (for statues). You could even combine the two – everyone must sit down and keep still. The last person to sit down or anyone who moves is out and the winner is the last person left.

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Tip #6: Physically distanced hide and seek

Like regular hide and seek, but when the seeker spots the people hiding they need to point to them and shout out rather than coming close to them.

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Tip #7: Keepy-uppie competitions

Playing football may be a no-no as households shouldn’t share equipment, but that doesn’t mean the kids can’t practise their footie skills as long as each household brings their own ball. Why not have a competition to see which household can do the most keepy-uppies? Keepy-uppies require concentration and focus so are a great way to exercise the body and the mind.

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Tip #8: Croquet, bowls, skittles, tennis, boules or crazy golf

If you and the other households have your own equipment, you can play non-contact sports like croquet, bowls, skittles or tennis together. You could even use rolled up socks to play a game of boules! Or why not set up your own crazy golf course in the garden using deckchairs, jumpers and anything else to hand?

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Tip #9: Hiding in plain sight

Each household brings a small object, like a ball or a mug. One person from each household then hides their object while everyone else shuts their eyes. But the trick is they have to hide the objects somewhere where everyone can see them, like on a bench or tree branch. It’s amazing how hard it is for the other people to find the objects, even when they’re staring them in the face! Just make sure not to pick up the other household’s objects.

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Tip #10: Goal games

Each household uses their own ball to try to score goals in a bucket or box. Who can be the first to 10 goals? Make it harder by moving further away from the goal, or throwing with one hand. Remember not to touch the other household’s ball!

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More play ideas

For more play ideas, visit the Actify and Play Scotland websites.