Summer weather, longer daylight hours and no school means plenty of time with friends and family. This is a great time of year to embrace activities that get you moving and outdoors. Not everyone’s ideas of exercise is fun. And not everyone likes to go for a run or play organized sports. Fortunately, there are plenty of healthy activities that don’t feel like exercise at all.
I’ll admit not all of these appeal to me — but some I’ve tried and they’re great fun! The best part is, there’s something for everyone, so find what you enjoy most. If you pick a physical activity you like, you tend to stick with it. Just make sure you wear sunscreen or take other precautions to protect your skin.
It’s a like a scavenger hunt or a treasure hunt, but it’s propelled by GPS coordinates. All you need is a GPS-enabled cell phone and the app from Geocaching.com. The difference between this and a scavenger hunt is that you don’t actually take the cache back with you; you record when you found it and put it back for the next geocache participant to find. The search can lead through cities, fields, forests, or just about anywhere. You could walk or bike, alone or in a group.
This is an easy activity that you can do with just a 12×12 space and a rubber ball. You can mark off the squares with chalk on a sidewalk or patio. While not the most vigorous of activities, it strengthens hand-eye coordination. In case you are not familiar with the game, you need at least four people. Each one stands in a square, then bounces the ball to the next person, keeping it in bounds. A variation is to name items from an agreed upon list–say, state capitals or movies about dogs–with each person naming one each time they pass the ball. When someone gets stumped, they’re out and a new person gets to take their place.
Visit a Zoo
Many children and adults relish a visit to a zoo. You’ll have to walk for at least a portion of the visit, so you’ll get your step count up while bonding with others. Somes zoos include playgrounds or ropes courses for an added physical boost. Plus, interacting with nature has been shown to improve your health. Many zoos offer opportunities to get up close with petting zoos, feeding opportunities, or gardens where you can stop and smell the flowers.
Build an Obstacle Course
Use items from around the house or the garage to create a course that challenges you and your family members. Get physical and think on your feet to work your way through your homemade challenge course. Hands on as We Grow, a parenting blog, offers suggestions. You could turn this into a multi-weekend project, since building it is as fun and physical as doing the course.
Play Capture the Flag, Ghost in the Graveyard, or Tag
Think back to the activities you loved during the summer as a kid. Nobody says adults can’t play tag (or one of its variations). These games get you moving and boost your endorphins. You’ll tire out the kids, you’ll get a good workout, and have a good time.
Go on a Picnic
Spring is the perfect time to go to the park with a blanket and a variety of picnic foods. Hike to a picturesque location carrying all your gear, then reward yourself with a delicious meal. Pack sandwiches, raw vegetables, nuts, or other healthy choices. If you live near a forest, picnic there to absorb the benefits of immersing yourself in nature. Follow any safety precautions you see posted and always pack out all of your trash.
Go Horseback Riding
If you or your child enjoys horses, look for lessons in our area, or take the family for a guided ride. There’s something soothing about spending time on a horse, although you may feel it in your back and legs the next day. Health Fitness Revolution says that it also boosts your coordination, core strength, and flexibility.
Try on Live Action Roleplaying or LARPing
Nerdfitness.com reports that if you have a roleplaying fan in your family, LARPing can be a fun experience. Not only do you get to be creative with costuming but you can be silly and express your geeky side as you play your favorite gaming character in real life. Create your own game or search the web for an organized one in your area.
Rainy Day Option: Take a Dance Lesson
Even in the summer, you don’t always want to be outside. If it’s too hot or raining, find fun things to do indoors. Many dance studios offer summer lessons. Some require you to sign up for a whole session, but in the summer these tend to be shorter, perhaps 4 to 8 weeks. It’s a great way to try something new without committing to a whole semester. Others may offer pay-as-you-go options. And, you might find classes in styles like salsa or tango at local bars where anyone can just show up.
Whether you’re looking for easy ways to burn calories this weekend or you just want to be more active, these activities could feel less like exercise and more like fun. Physical activity is a critical piece of an overall healthy lifestyle. Of course, if you have any conditions that might limit you or you’re concerned about injury, talk to an integrative medical professional first. We take your whole lifestyle into consideration.