The weather has been fantastic lately. I hear birds chirping early in the morning and flowers are blooming everywhere. Windows are open for fresh air and I’m thinking about taking a walk outside. The unmistakable jingle of an ice cream truck lingering in my neighborhood delivers the final announcement that summer is here.
And though there are plenty of opportunities to stay active in winter, spring and fall – the summer is when we have absolutely no excuse for loafing around the house all day. Here’s a list of eight super fun summer activities you won’t want to miss. The best part is that we’ve selected these particular activities because engaging in them will also provide you with a full body workout. You’re welcome.
#1 – Take the family and head to your local water slide park. Water parks are great places to burn calories while you’re having an amazing time. You can get an incredible workout by carrying the double seater rafts, climbing the long staircases to get to the top of the slides, and hiking through the park in your flip flops. We estimate an afternoon at the water slide park could help you burn anywhere from 400-700 calories. Just be sure to drink a ton of water and skip the junk food they sell at the park.
#2 – Rent a stand up paddle board for a full body workout. Stand up paddle boards originated in Hawaii, but have gained popularity everywhere there’s water in the past decade. If you live near a lake, river or ocean, there’s likely a shop where you can rent yourself one of these bad boys and hop on it. Experts recommend starting on your knees, while paddling in calm water, then standing up once you feel balanced and ready for the challenge.
When you use a stand up paddle board, you’ll engage almost every muscle in your body. The core abdominal and back muscles will carry most of the burden, as you’re staying balanced and upright. Of course the arms and shoulders will be hard at work, manning the paddle. Employ the leg muscles to help maintain balance too. Stand up paddle boarding is an intense, cross training workout that’s also low impact and a lot of fun.
#3 – Host a volleyball game at the park. Sure traditional volleyball is played with two teams of six players. But you get a better workout with two teams made up of three or four people. Just text as many of your friends, co-workers and family members as you can, and meet at the closest park with a volleyball net. Friends who don’t feel up to playing can man the barbecue grill and maintain the cheering squad.
Playing volleyball for an hour will give you a solid workout and help you expend around 400 calories. If you’re playing on the beach or in the water, you’ll burn even more. Make sure you stretch before the game – you’ll be using a lot of muscle groups. And stay hydrated out there.
#4 – Take a family bike ride. Grab your helmet and a bottle of water. It’s time for a ten mile ride. The summer is a perfect time to get the entire family together for a nice long bike trek. And cycling is a great way for everybody to participate in something fun together and get a stellar workout to boot.
There are so many benefits to riding a bike. First of all, cycling is a low impact sport. You can get a top notch workout without pounding or jarring your joints. Also, it’s an “all ages” activity. Kids who are just learning to ride can use training wheels or a balance bike to exercise with the family. Finally, like many other activities on this list, bicycling requires the use of several muscle groups at once. The core is engaged during cycling, as well as the leg muscles, arms and shoulders. Cycling offers a whole body workout and a fun family activity.
#5 – Hit the pool. As the temperature rises this summer, it’s tempting to turn the air conditioner on full blast and scroll through this week’s DVR selections. The alternative: cool off at the pool instead. An afternoon of tossing the kids in the water, playing Marco Polo and doing belly busters off the diving board can really provide a decent workout – and another fantastic opportunity for summer fun.
To get the most calorie burn out of your pool day, stay active the whole time. Swim laps while you wait for friends to join or when others are taking a break. Start a game of chicken or pool volleyball if things get too stagnant. And when all else fails, go for the cannonball!
#6 – Play some backyard games. If you’ve got a decent sized group, there are endless ways to turn exercise into fun in the backyard. Consider a water relay race. This is an activity that will bring out the inner 6th grader in everyone. Here’s how to play: You’ll need one large bucket and a plastic cup and sponge for each player. Divide into two teams. Each team will form a line about 20 feet from the bucket full of water. When the relay starts, player one, from each team runs to the bucket and soaks his sponge in water. He runs back to player two, who is waiting with her cup on the top of her head. Player one squeezes all the water from his sponge into player two’s cup and runs back to fill the sponge with more water. Player one will repeat this until player two’s cup is full. Player two will then dump the water onto player one’s head before she takes the sponge to the bucket to fill the cup on the head of the person behind her. This madness continues until one team has filled the cup of each member. Yes, it’s a little silly. But it’s the kind of fun you won’t soon forget.
Looking for a little more backyard action? How about an old fashioned hula hoop contest? You’ll need several hoops for this. During the summer, hula hoops can almost always be found at the local dollar store or discount retailer. Grab one hoop for each participant. Then turn on the music and see who can keep that hoop spinning the longest. If you’ve got a few front runners, increase the challenge by having them continue on one foot or while keeping both arms up.
Another good backyard option is Hide and Seek. Keep it active by designating a “base.” After everyone has hidden, and the counting is finished, the players try to get to the base. If players can manage to touch the base before they are tagged, they’re safe. Whoever is “it” has to try and tag the other players while keeping an eye on base at the same time.
And what summer is complete without a serious water gun fight? There are some pretty heavy duty water guns on the market these days. Some of them hold nearly a gallon of water. Fill those suckers up and start drenching the neighbor’s kids. Water gun fights are a great way to burn calories while you engage in a soakfest of neighborhood fun.
Backyard games can provide hours of high energy entertainment, while everyone benefits from a pretty solid workout. The key here is to keep moving and find ways to increase the activity level throughout the games. These games provide an opportunity to stay active and enjoy some stress-relieving summer playtime with friends.
#7 – Train for a 5K. If you’ve never participated in a 5K race, this summer is a great time to sign up for your first one. A 5K race is 3.1 miles long. Most races allow people to run or walk the course. It’s wise to train for several weeks for a 5K race. Most trainers recommend an eight week preparation. Week one starts with one mile runs. Then the training continues, three days per week, as the distance gradually increases to 3.1 miles.
Training in a 5K race is the perfect way to kick off your summer with a consistent exercise regimen. It also feels great to set a goal and achieve it by crossing the finish line. Bonus: this fun summer activity normally comes with a free T-shirt and bragging rights.
#8 – Hunt down a community yard sale and leave your car at home. For this thrifty activity, you’ll need a wagon, bike trailer or push cart (depending on how much you plan to buy). Go early to avoid most of the traffic and snag the best deals. Since many community wide sales include multiple subdivisions, you’ll log several miles as you bargain shop from house to house.
The key to getting a whole body workout while hunting deals is keeping the entire body engaged as you walk, jog or bike from sale to sale. If you’re on foot, swing the arms while you walk and keep a steady pace. No matter your mode of travel, be sure to keep your core tight and maintain good posture as you go. And remember to wear your fanny pack – you’ll need a place to carry some spending money.
So as the weather perks up and the fresh air sends you an invitation to a blissful outdoor adventure, take full advantage of the season. Don’t let another delightful sunny day go by without engaging in one of these fun summer activities. See you outside!
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Rick Kaselj, MS