Fun Ways to Stay Fit
It’s no secret that physical activity can boost your mood by getting those endorphins flowing, and staying active is also good for your health, even at a young age. Staying active as a family will not only keep the whole family healthy, it can also bring everybody a little closer together and chase away the summer boredom blues.
Here are some fun activities you can plan for this summer, perfect for kids of all ages, so your family can stay fit and happy together.
Take a Hike
Enjoy nature as you stroll around your neighborhood or along walking paths and nature trails at parks and preserves near you. Make a game of it by having everyone see how many different species of wildlife they can spot. The Grand Bay Wildlife Management Area in Valdosta has beautiful trails that meander through the woods, plus a boardwalk that runs over the wetlands and leads to a fire tower. The climb will get everyone’s heart rate up, and the view is a fine reward for the workout.
For another local trail, check out John W. Saunders Memorial Park in Valdosta, which has a paved walking path and nature trail to a wooded area, plus a playground and a splash pad so young kids can cool off after their hike.
Ride a Bike
Whether you’re on two wheels or three, riding a bike is fun and fitness all in one. Pedal along your neighborhood sidewalk, or pack a picnic and head to Reed Bingham State Park in Adel, halfway between Valdosta and Tifton. This well-maintained state park has seven beautiful trails, ranging from three-tenths of a mile to one mile long—short enough for little legs to pedal. The park also offers bicycle, canoe and kayak rentals. Go for the day or for the weekend—there are plenty of tent, trailer and RV campsites—and enjoy some exercise with the family in the great outdoors.
Fly a Kite
Head to a park with lots of open space and no power lines to fly a kite. A little wind and a running start are all you need to get your kite off the ground. North Lowndes Park in Valdosta has plenty of open space for kite flying. While you can certainly buy a kite, the American Kite Flyers Association at kite.org has plans for building your own that range from high-tech to simple. Easy designs for kids include a paper plate, paper bag, and even a plastic trash bag kite. All you need is a bag, two sticks, some string and a pair of scissors. Little ones can help decorate the kite, and everyone gets a workout trying to launch it and keep it in the air — as well as run after it!
Remember, you don’t have to leave home to find fun and get in a workout. Here are some fun activities you can do right in your own backyard that will get you and your tribe moving together:
Toss a Disc
Add to the game of Frisbee by setting up a backyard disc golf course. Use laundry baskets or dish tubs set up at distances that even little arms can handle. Then, take turns tossing and see how many tries it takes to score. Everyone will be so busy concentrating on their aim, they won’t even realize they are sneaking in a workout!
For the older kids, Freedom Park in Valdosta has a 20-hole disc golf course, perfect for those who crave a bit of a challenge.
Create a Backyard Fitness Challenge
Create a backyard fitness challenge or obstacle course with stations for different activities. Roll the dice to see how many jumping jacks, sit ups, or push ups you have to do before moving on to the next station. Reward your crew with a celebratory run through the sprinkler when they have completed the course for a fun at-home fitness challenge.
Set up a backyard net for badminton or volleyball, or just enjoy a game of catch with a soft football or softball. Make the game more exciting by trying different throws and catches. Or set up a laundry basket as your “hoop” or “goal,” and try to get as many shots in as you can from different distances.
Whatever physical activities you plan together as a family this summer, the benefits will be more than just fitness. You’ll find that time spent playing together will strengthen family bonds, reduce stress and elevate the mood. So get together, get outdoors, and get moving!
Written by: Christine Steele