Summer is coming! It's time to take your fitness program out to the great outdoors. Spend some time enjoying Mother Nature and all her creations. Greet your neighbors, who have been cooped up in a cold-weather hibernation. Decide that today will be the day when you take that step outside.
Daily exercise has many benefits, including increased energy, a more positive attitude, and a healthy outlet for stress. If you increase your daily activity, you can lower your health risks and increase your life expectancy. Best of all, outdoor exercise can be cheap and easy, even if you have a busy schedule or a family to keep track of. Walking A simple walk around the neighborhood will get you started and at very little cost to you. All that you need is a good, comfortable pair of walking shoes and a watch to keep track of the time, and then you are ready to head out the door. There is no room for excuses! Rather than tell yourself that you are not a morning person or that you are in a hurry, try getting up just 30 minutes earlier to spend time with your own thoughts and goals. An evening walk can also provide the perfect opportunity to reconnect with family members. As everyone is "unplugged" (no iPods!), unwind together and discuss what you did that day without distraction. Biking If you have a bicycle locked away in storage, pull it out and dust off the cobwebs. Take it to a local bike shop for a tune-up, and then pedal your cares away. Biking is both gentle and great for your heart. It is an ideal low-impact exercise option for people of all ages, including those with bad backs or knees. Search online for established trails in your area, and take the opportunity discover (or rediscover) your neighborhood and local parks. Ensure that children are outfitted with helmets and reflective safety gear, and be sure to pack enough water for hot, sunny weather. Hiking & Camping For more intensive exercise, lace up your boots, spray on some bug repellant, and head out into the woods. You can likely find trails to suit any level of fitness, from flat and relaxing to steep and grueling. For a different kind of outdoor fun, head to a nearby watering hole for a cool, refreshing dip. Swimming is another all-ages low-impact exercise that is great for your body. If you have younger children or grandchildren, consider supplementing an outdoor adventure with something to keep them interested. For example, make a nature scavenger hunt wherein they look for certain trees, flowers, or animals. Alternatively, join the geocaching craze to search for real live hidden treasure with a handheld GPS. When you find a trinket along the way, leave one of your own in its place. Some caches have log books in which you'll place the time and date. It's a true adventure and gets your entire family outside and enjoying the parks. Group Activity Do you have a good friend who could join you for daily exercise? You'll stick to your fitness program better when you know that someone is counting on you for company. You will encourage each other with your shared desire to get fit and stay active. If you are new to your area and don't know many people, join an adult sport league in your area. Popular sports like kickball, softball, and Frisbee are easy for anyone to play, and the built-in exercise provides a great opportunity for camaraderie. So get out there!
Michele Batz is a 30-year veteran in the physical education field, with a master's and Ph.D. in Holistic Nutrition and a master's in Administration. She's been a fitness writer for the past 7 years to help motivate not just in the physical sense, but also the creative. The arts with movement is an element she is working on in her classes and with the help of CATCH (Coordinated Approach To Children's Health) to combine all elements of leading a healthy, active life. CATCH involves the whole school community, physical education teachers, classroom teachers, cafeteria, parents and the community. This is a wonderful way to educate our youth to fight children's obesity. Michele enjoys her life with her husband and son, living in Illinois. Visit her blog at mbatz.blogspot.com.