I love this next program I’m going to tell you about because it’s not only great for people who already live active lifestyles, but gives incentives for those of us who are a little more sedentary than we would like to get out and move! In fact, the name of the program is “Let’s Move Outside.” It was originally created by First Lady Michelle Obama as part of her “Let’s Move” campaign to end childhood obesity.
The “Let’s Move Outside” program, as you can imagine, is aimed to get children and families moving outdoors to improve health. Its goal, as stated on its website, “…is to get kids active so they see the physical activity they need not as a chore but as a fun way to explore our country.” Their website has plenty of resources and tips on where and how to get active and healthy eating as well.
How do national parks play into this program? I’ll tell you! Like the Junior Ranger program booklets you can pick up at parks, you can grab a walking record for the Let’s Move Outside program. I can’t attest for other parks, but at ours we have separate ones for kids and adults. (I’m kicking myself now for not grabbing one of the kids ones to show you guys!) Either way, you write down the date, what trail you walked/hiked, start/end time, and HOW LONG it took you altogether.
So what’s the big deal about recording how long you go for walks in the park? You get “free swag” as my ranger friend likes to say, once you’ve completed so many hours. For example, once you’ve reached 5 hours of hiking you will receive a free water bottle. After 10 hours you will get a free baseball cap! After that you receive free items at 25, 50, 100, 200, and 400 hours. That’s a lot of walking! All you have to do is fill out your walking record and let a park ranger (or volunteer, perhaps) look over it and they will give you free stuff! Not a bad deal, right?
I will tell you that not as many parks participate in this as the Junior Ranger program. The ones that do are many of the larger, nature-based parks, with plenty of hiking trails, which makes sense. If you’re planning a family vacation to any national parks this summer, click HERE for a list of parks by state that participate in the Let’s Move Outside program.
I'm also kicking myself for not thinking to start this when I first started getting out and walking. I would be so much closer to my 25 hour prize!