13 Ways to Celebrate Health, Fitness and Local Parks this Summer

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Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama

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Jun 10, 2024

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Alabama - Gulf Coast

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Summer is here and it’s time for the whole family to get moving!

Every year, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) celebrates Family Health & Fitness Day the second Saturday in June (this year it’s June 8). The goal is to encourage families to make the most of their local park and rec facilities. For many people, that’s pretty convenient: 74% of people who live in the U.S. are walking distance from a park, playground, recreation center or open space. Which is great news, because research shows that children and adults who live near parks and spend time in nature actually tend to be healthier mentally and physically.

This month, in honor of Family Health & Fitness Day, think about the green spaces that are close to you, and dream up some ways to bring the great outdoors into your family’s summer routine. Here are some ideas for fun family adventures all season long.

  1. Take a family walk to your local park. Grab your walking shoes and leave the car behind! Wave to the neighbors as you amble over to your favorite open space. Isn’t it nice to get away from technology and screens and breathe in some fresh air with the family? You could even consider making this a part of your regular evening routine.
  2. Keep your park clean. Grab a trash bag and some gloves and pick up any trash you encounter at the park, playground or recreation facility. Make it beautiful so you and others can enjoy the serenity of nature, without being distracted by litter. Bonus: picking up trash can be a good workout!
  3. Sign up for a 5k (or plan your own). See if your local park hosts a walk or run, and if they don’t, study a map and do it yourself! Make it a fun group activity by inviting friends and neighbors to join.  
  4. Plan a barbecue or picnic at the park. Stock up on your favorite foods and enjoy them al fresco at your area’s green space. Take a ball or flying disc to toss around and make a day of it. Just be sure to load up on sunblock and find some shade, so you don’t get a sunburn!
  5. Have fun. Play tag or chase; slide down slides; swing on swings; spin on the merry-go-round; flop in the grass; dance in the fountain; play fetch with the dog. Do whatever activity calls to you at your local park, whether you’re a kid, or a kid at heart!
  6. Go swimming. Find your nearest pool, whether it’s at a park, a community center or somewhere else—and take the plunge! Swimming is one of summer’s greatest perks, and it also happens to be excellent exercise. Pack a pool bag with snacks, a book and plenty of sunblock and make a day of it.
  7. Pose for a photo shoot. Green spaces make beautiful backdrops. Gather some friends and tell them to bring some fun fashion — and props — and strike a pose.
  8. Sign up for a fitness class. Lots of parks have gyms and offer indoor and outdoor group fitness classes. This could be your summer to finally try yoga or Zumba! Or, maybe it’s time to try your hand at pickleball, or join a volleyball team. All of the above are a great way to get moving, and maybe even meet some of your neighbors.  
  9. Go on a treasure hunt. Wander around the paths and trails of a regional park and see what you can spot. Maybe you’ll find a four-leaf clover, observe some weird insect behavior or encounter other creatures. Tune into the flora and the fauna and see where your walk takes you.
  10. Visit a local farm or farmers market. Buying fruits and vegetables grown nearby is great for your health and the environment. When you shop what’s in season, you might even get inspired to try some new recipes. See if your local park hosts a farmers market or head to a nearby farm. Take the kids along and let them choose fruits and veggies they want to try. Take it a step further and challenge them to help you come up with the menu for the week.
  11. Take a deep breath. Green spaces have a way of helping you relax, instantly. At a park, you can sit, rest, think and simply be, with no expectations or obligations. Grab a journal and some headphones, or just sit on a bench and watch the world around you. You may find that you leave feeling a little bit lighter than when you arrived.
  12. Spend a night camping. When’s the last time you went camping? Summer can be a lovely time to spend a night under the stars. Do a little research and find a campground near your house. Or, keep it low-key and pitch a tent in the backyard. It involves less packing and planning — and easy bathroom and air-conditioner access. 
  13. Bring more green spaces — and green practices — into your life. Consider what changes you could make at your home to boost your own healthy practices and activities. For example, kick off a regular family exercise routine—you don’t need any equipment for sit-ups, push-ups, crunches and other strength-building activities. Plant a garden and grow your own fruits, vegetables and herbs, either in containers, in the ground or in a community garden. Challenge other family members to a walking competition and see who can squeeze in more steps every week. What other endeavors can you think of that would make health and fitness a part of your family’s everyday routine?  

Family health and fitness gets the spotlight in June, but it’s a concept you can commit to year-round. This summer, strive to incorporate some fun, healthy habits into the mix. Eating nutritious foods and adding more activity to your routine can benefit you and your whole family. And your local park is a great place to start!

This article was contributed by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama.  Contact them concerning Medicare Advantage and Insurance Plans at 251-210-7089.

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Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama

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