Keep kids physically active on the weekends

It’s inevitable. Saturday morning rolls around and everyone looks at each other and asks, What are we going to do today?

Weekends are the perfect time for families to spend together engaging in some physical fitness and fun activities. Albany offers numerous outdoor playgrounds for kids to run, jump, slide and kick or throw a ball around. The best part is all with no cost to you. One of the best and biggest playgrounds is Turtle Park, which is located downtown right next to the Visitor’s Welcome Center. A few other free playgrounds in the area are:

Tift Park on North Jefferson Street;

Carver Park on Lee Street;

Hilsman Park on Third Avenue.

Chehaw Park and Zoo, located off of Philema Road, has a huge playground for kids of all ages. However, there is an admission charge to get into the park. The fee for the park and playground is only $1 for kids 4-12 and $2 over 12 years, but free for anyone under 4 years old. For an additional fee, you gain access to the zoo. The zoo provides a shaded walking path with views of various animals (zebras, rhinos, cheetahs, monkeys, bears and many more).

Another active family activity located in Albany is the All American Fun Park located at 2608 N. Slappy Blvd. The Fun Park has two miniature golf courses, bowling, go carts and an inside game room. All activities cost a minimal fee and you can find various daily specials. For instance, you can get a free activity on Sundays if you bring in a church bulletin.

Right down the street from the Fun Park is Wilders World, an indoor play place with huge inflatable bounce houses. It is open seven days a week and kids can jump for an unlimited time (cost is $4.50 for 1-3 and $6.50 for 4-13). The Fun Park and Wilders World are excellent indoor choices for kids to be physically active.

All of these places provide free or reasonably priced weekend activities with fitness involved. Of course, you can always take your bike for a ride or your feet for a walk on the riverfront path or around your neighborhood.

There are numerous fall family activities in Southwest Georgia that not only provide an opportunity for families to spend time together but to experience something new. For instance Mark’s Melon Patch, located near Sasser just outside of Albany, has a huge pumpkin patch where you can walk through and pick your own pumpkin for the Halloween season. They also offer hayrides and a corn maze, in addition to fresh produce and locally produced products for sale. Mark’s Melon Patch also has a playground for the kids.

Fall also brings with it local festivals. Many of these provide various forms of entertainment from parades, to animal shows. Although the food at these festivals will probably not be categorized as healthy, a little treat (candy apple, funnel cake, fried Snickers bars) can be eaten in moderation or shared with someone.

Two noteworthy fall festivals in the area are the Hahira Honeybee Festival and the Plains Peanut Festival. Both of these have a 5-K race that you can walk or run and get some exercise before you enjoy the festival. The Honeybee Festival takes place in Hahira, about an hour from Albany, and runs Oct. 1-6. The 5-K run is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 6, at 8 a.m.

The Peanut Festival is located in Plains (yes, home to Jimmy Carter) and is about 30 minutes from Albany. This festival takes place on Sept. 15 and the 5-K race begins at 8:30 a.m. They also have a shorter race/walk for those of you who don’t think a 5-K is something you can tackle right now.

This is just a sample of all there is to do for you and your family in the Albany area. I will try to mention some fun upcoming activities in my future columns.

Dr. Kirsten Lupinski is an assistant professor at Albany State University in the Health, Physical Education and Recreation Department. She has a B.S. in Nutrition from the University of North Carolina, an M.S. in Health Education from the University of Kentucky and a doctorate in Education from the University of Cincinnati. She has worked in the health education field in various capacities (corporate health, community health, college health and wellness and university education) for more than 15 years. She and her husband have three young children (5-year-old twin sons and a 2-year-old daughter).


gradin78 3 years, 2 months ago

Oh how I miss those days when I had to make my children come in just to eat, then they couldn't eat fast enough so they could get back out to ride their bike, swim, climb trees or just run around! We shouldn't need a professor/nutritionist to tell us we should keep our kids active. I'm almost 52 and I am out swimming, running, turning cartwheels with my grandchildren. It's time to stop buying children gadgets to keep them inside and sugary sweets and drinks while doing nothing but moving their fingers!!


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