A lot of articles have been written lately claiming sitting as the new smoking, and damaging your health. With summer just around the corner, the warm weather can help facilitate getting out and doing something, anything! Plan out a fun summer with the family or friends around doing different activities to move your body. Let’s start setting aside time to focus on moving our bodies today and during the sunny season.
Exchanging screen time for active time
We are in front of the computer, TV, and screens in general for so many hours, we’re literally starting to have headaches, misshaped backs, and strained eyesight. If you’re a parent, screen time is definitely a modern-day concern. It is a tough and tempting dilemma today. According to a HuffPost article, extensive screen time can also lead to dizziness and nausea, and too much scrolling on your phone can end in soreness and cramping in the fingers, wrist, and forearm.
The amazing thing is we can solve many of these physical ailments by just moving. Did you know that a 20-minute walk can reduce inflammation, helping with arthritis? And moving regularly can slow the loss of bone density. According to BusinessInsider.com, a recent study shows that athletic adults appear to have healthier and younger-looking immune systems than those who don’t exercise regularly.
Get away from screen and the stress. Get into the fun!
Last month, I talked about the negative effects of stress on the body and specific ways for dealing with stress. You guessed it! Moving is one simple way to deal with stress. Look for small and big get-you-moving ideas like playing disc golf, running to the neighborhood park, jumping on a backyard trampoline, swimming, or enjoying old-school roller skating at Oaks Park. Start today! Going outside and into nature is the perfect way to combat stress, and start now with these simple ideas as the weather is getting nicer. Let’s take it one step further and get the whole family involved now to plan some summer fun. Here are some tips to get you started.
- Include everyone in the planning
Create a summer adventure list and have everyone contribute ideas. Your elementary-age children might like sports and rec camps, bike rides along Portland’s waterfront, park picnics, or exploring nearby creeks, lakes, and rivers. With older, busy kids, plan a summer fitness challenge that your family can do together or separately. You can pick one run each month during summer or plan one big run together like the Bubble Run. Schedule monthly hikes where you meet up (look below for more hiking ideas). Or, maybe you’d like to do a fitness challenge between families in different states, like which family does the most hikes.
No kids? No problem. Maybe you have sisters and brothers living in different states. Get them and their families involved and finish the competition at your family end-of-summer reunion.
- Explore parks and trails
Running, walking, or bicycling to a nearby park is an easy way to enjoy nature while getting exercise. Check out the dozens of local park and trail options throughout Clackamas County, Multnomah County, and Washington County . The best part—they’re free!
Take part in the world’s biggest treasure hunt by geocaching. This is a great way to explore your neighborhood, discover new parks, see places you’d never thought to visit, and meet new people. My husband and kids did a geocaching day at the Oregon coast and the view from the trail we were on was absolutely beautiful! What a great day that was!
- Garden as a family
Planting a garden in your back yard or a community garden is an outdoor hobby that can involve children, parents, and grandparents. Kids love watching the seeds they’ve planted turn into vegetables, fruits, and flowers. Gardening also gets you moving your body and strengthening muscles. Oregon State University Extension Service has a detailed PDF packed with gardening tips. I have a few garden boxes in my backyard. There is something to be said to go out in your garden and gather dinner!
- Search local and not-so-local hikes
You don’t have to go far to find some gorgeous hikes. The article, “Favorite hiking spots in Portland,” lists urban hikes and nature trails within the Portland City Limits and popular hikes in the Gorge. OregonHikers.org and TravelOregon are also worth checking out if you’re up for some day hikes.
If you’re thinking about some overnight trips with hiking as a bonus, check out Oregon State Parks for camping options from closer destinations (think Silver Falls near Salem) to places like Crater Lake in southern Oregon. We camp at Stub Stewart frequently because its so convenient and there are so many hiking trails there!
Hike among the Redwoods in California, the Hoodoos of Bryce Canyon, Utah, or farther away. The National Parks Service is a wonderful resource for hikes around the country.
- Go berry picking
U-pick berries right off the plant? Yes please! We are so lucky to live in a place surrounded by farms and fresh fruit. All you need are a couple of buckets and sunscreen, then head for a U-Pick farm near you. Pickyourown.org is a wonderful resource that shows you what farms are available for U-Pick in your county and lets you know what’s in season month to month. And of course, find organic if you can!
Getting outdoors now and this summer will do a world of good for your mental and physical health. Contact me if you need more ideas to get you started!