Summer has come to the mid-west! Beautiful sunshine with warm temperatures beckons us to go outdoors! It is a great time to be active and move. Here are a few suggestions for healthy outdoor summer activities, as well as the benefits they bring to you physically and mentally. Most activities can be done by individuals or as a family. It’s especially even fun to try a new activity!
In the Water
Canoeing and Kayaking
One of my favorite outdoor activities is canoeing. I’ve experienced anything from a leisure canoe down the Chippewa River with my family to week long canoe trips in the Canadian wilderness. Either one of these activities can be stress relieving as well as physically challenging. One of our favorite canoe trips as a family was on a pond in Mt.Chase, Maine. Please note, that what Maine considers a pond is beautiful blue water the size of a small lake. We had a wonderful view of Mt. Katahdin while paddling.
Canoeing and Kayaking both improve your cardiovascular and muscle strength particularly in your shoulders, back, torso, and arms. Canoeing and kayaking are considered low impact paddle sports, meaning reduced wear and tear on your joints and tissues.
Our family finds both these water activities a peaceful way to enjoy the water. The most challenging time we had was kayaking in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. We began by kayaking down an inland waterway to Waites Island. The challenge comes when you have to paddle hard once you hit the open ocean to reach the island. It’s exhilarating as the waves crash over your kayak, and you paddle against the current to make your way to the beach.
Stand Up Paddle-boarding
Paddle-boarding is rapidly growing in popularity, and for good reason. It is exceptional fun!! Stand up paddle-boarding can be experienced anywhere there is water; rivers, ponds, lakes, inland waterways and even the ocean.
The physical benefits are numerous! It really is a full body workout requiring leg, arm, and core strength. Paddle-boarding also improves your balance, which is an important skill as you age. Another benefit is it’s low impact, meaning little to no strain on tendons and ligaments.
Paddle-boarding brings you outdoors and allows for Vitamin D absorption from the sun and experiencing the peaceful nature of being on the water.
Swimming & Snorkeling
Swimming is another low impact cardiovascular activity. Swimming burns lots of calories and strengthens your muscles. Many swim to relieve stress and boost their mood. During the summer months, swimming keeps you cool while you exercise. You will also notice that when you spend the day swimming or snorkeling at the beach, you will sleep very well that night!
Snorkeling adds exploration to your swim. My husband and I have enjoyed snorkeling on the beautiful island of Kauai, which was definitely breath taking. Our family has snorkeled at the famous “drop off” in Higgins Lake, Michigan. If you have never experienced it, you’re swimming in clear green/blue water where you can touch, to suddenly swimming over a dark cold drop off. Regardless of where you chose to snorkel, it’s fun to use mask, snorkel and flippers to cruise around the water.
Dust off your bikes and pump up those tires! Biking is another summer activity that provides cardiovascular benefits. You can use your bike as transportation to your job, the local park or farmers market.
Biking is a wonderful activity for those people who have foot injuries or knee problems. If you experience back pain and need a low impact exercise, try biking.
Biking really works your lower body muscles, legs, thighs, and bottom. It is also an activity that increases your circulation, leading to healthy skin and overall bodily functions. A 20-30 minute bike ride during the day is all it takes to aid in restful nights sleep.
Incorporate walking into your summer routine to improve your overall health! Walking is the exercise of choice for maintaining a healthy body weight and for preventing disease. You can walk around your neighborhood, local parks, and even on the beach.
This simple activity requires no equipment, however it can be beneficial to strengthening both your muscles and your bones. Walking maintains your balance and coordination no matter your age.
Do you need a simple stress reducing activity? Go for a walk! Walking is known for enhancing your mood and relieving daily stress. This low impact activity reduces high blood pressure at the same time it gives you energy. Walking can be done by yourself or as a group!
Michigan is not known for it’s rock climbing, however ledges from the Niagara Escarpment can be found in the little town of Grand Ledge, Michigan. Rock climbing is one outdoor activity you will need special equipment and specific instruction before participating. The easiest way for your family to enjoy this activity is hiring a reputable guide.
In my younger years, I worked for a guide service in Michigan that specialized in teaching kids groups and Boy Scout troops the basics of climbing. I also served as a climbing guide in North Conway, NH. In fact if you are visiting the White Mountains, I highly recommend International Mountain Climbing School.
Rock climbing builds lower and upper body strength. It also requires a certain physical endurance when climbing a harder route. One of the unique factors of climbing is it exercises your brain, and encourages problem solving skills. It also requires focus and balance. After spending an afternoon or evening climbing, you’ll notice another benefit, it’s stress relieving!
Hiking is another favorite outdoor activity!!! Whether you are hiking through a meadow, a forest, or gaining altitude up a mountain, every step will make you healthier! Hiking is far from boring and brings a certain mental awareness that exercises your mind and body.
The health benefits of hiking is numerous. Hiking improves your overall cardio-respiratory fitness. It improves your upper and lower muscle strength. Hiking lowers your risk of disease and improves your blood pressure. Hiking, like walking increases your bone destiny which is especially important for women. Are you looking for activity that burns calories and aids in weight control? Go hiking!
You do not have to be in perfect shape to begin this activity! Start slow and begin to gradually build your endurance. Mental benefits of hiking include an increase in your attention span and finding creative solutions to problem solving. Overall, hiking has been known to improve your disposition and generate feelings of happiness!
Healthy Outdoor Summer Activities
In conclusion, getting outdoors and becoming active is a healthy lifestyle choice! Our bodies can maintain or even lose weight easier when we are active. Staying active aids in disease prevention and allowing us to have better quality of life.
When you chose to become active outdoors, you benefit from sunshine and breathing in fresh air. Activities like biking, swimming and hiking increase circulation which then delivers more oxygen to our brain! Increased oxygen to our brain results in better cell and neuronal production.
One the greatest benefits is feeling better about yourself, reducing daily stress and enhancing your overall mood. Do you or your family have a particular activity you enjoy during the summer months?
P.S. Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Trail Bars will provide you with a healthy snack while you are active!