Ahh..sweet summertime. The time of year when the kids are off school, picnics with friends are every other weekend, and weddings work their way into the mix between vacations and odd jobs around the house. It is a time when we try to beat the heat and stay cool, but we still want to make sure we look good.
We want to be healthy and fit during the summer (especially for that week at the beach), but how do we do that? Is there a way to get in shape and stay in shape even with the busyness and delectable delights always at our fingertips?
What else is there other than running, biking and hiking? There are sports, games, and even leisure activities that can only be done during the summer, or at least, when it is nice outside. Sand volleyball, badminton, croquet, swimming, tennis, Frisbee, baseball, kickball, sailing, windsurfing and the list goes on. Many of these activities can be done in the backyard or at one of the many local parks, lakes or rivers.
At Roxbury Park in the Moxham area, there are outdoor volleyball courts, tennis courts, baseball fields, an outdoor hockey rink, a playground and if walking or running is the preferred outdoor activity, there is a paved track that encompasses the park.
Another local park is on Luray Avenue in Richland. Luray Avenue Park, home to the Arbutus Little League, features outdoor basketball courts, a playground, tennis courts, sand volleyball, a playground and a walking track. There is plenty to do at both Roxbury and Luray Avenue, but what about the days that are just scorchers and it is too hot to play sports and run around?
That is when Windber Recreational Park comes to mind. The park itself has many of the same features as Roxbury and Luray Avenue. However, this park also has a pool. The pool features two shotgun slides and a 148-foot snake waterslide, along with a kiddy pool. There is a cost to go to the pool, though. It is $6 for adults and $5 for students. Swimming is a seasonal activity, but it helps people get fit in a fun and cool way.
All three parks have plenty of opportunities to help people get into shape this summer. They all have plenty of sporting opportunities. Sports are not the only way to get fit, though. Besides, what about those rainy days where going outside is not an option?
Playing sports can be a fun and competitive way to get into shape, but sports are not for everyone. There are plenty of video games and consoles that are specifically made for moving around. With the kids home for the summer, video game consoles such as the Xbox Kinect, the Nintendo Wii and the Playstation Move are a good way to get them off the couch and moving around.
The Kinect and Playstation Move have games like “Just Dance” that get people to turn their boogie on and burn some calories in the process. Both consoles feature sports games and action games. The Xbox website also has a category for fitness games. According to the Xbox website, your body is the controller with Kinect. The Playstation website said it has games for everyone.
The Wii was one of the first video game systems to use motion sensors and make people get off the couch. With games such as “Wii Sports,” “Wii Fit,” and “Wii Fit Plus,” the Wii has dozens of opportunities to get people moving. “Wii Fit” works on balance and posture, which helps build muscles in the core.
If none of these game systems is available, turn on some music and just dance around the house. It can make daily tasks like cleaning more enjoyable. If games are not appealing, consider walking around the mall or just going to a store. Getting moving is one of the first steps to getting in shape.
Staying inside playing video games is good for some people, (especially on rainy days) but they are not for everyone. Sometimes going on an adventure, like canoeing, kayaking or whitewater rafting is a fun way to get fit during the summer.
Living in the valley, there are plenty of rivers, streams and lakes around. Some are manmade and some are natural, but they are all good places to do water activities. The Stonycreek River has whitewater rafting, and a canoe and kayak club in Benscreek. More information for both of these can be found at www.thestonycreek.com/boating.
Lakes such as the Quemahoning, Shawnee and Prince Gallitzin also offer opportunities to canoe, kayak and sail. These leisurely activities allow for a day at the lake, a picnic with friends and a chance to not only learn a hobby, but also to get in shape while learning it.
Those picnics at the lake can make being healthy difficult, but with healthy snacks and meals it can be easy not to nullify a workout.
It is OK to have a banana split every now and then without having to do the splits the next day. There is no sense in eliminating sweets, especially with so many tasty ones in season. The key is moderation.
Try ordering a baby ice cream cone in place of a small or splitting a funnel cake with a friend instead of eating it alone. There are many possibilities of summer foods mixed with fresh fruits and vegetables that can make not-so-healthy foods, a little bit healthier. Websites such as foodnetwork.com offer options and recipes to make healthy eating easier.
On foodnetwork.com, there are 34 different recipes for healthy eating in the summer. Many of the recipes suggest grilling fruits or creating colorful salads. One recipe, hot plums and berries, is nothing more than what it sounds like. Plums and berries wrapped in foil thrown on the grill. Another recipe for those hot days was watermelon snow cones. Simply puree watermelon and freeze it. It might not travel too well to a picnic, but for an afternoon where lounging in the hammock is the only thing on the to-do list, it makes for a light, cool snack.
Who said getting fit was difficult in the summer? There are plenty of ways to be healthy during the summer and it is always more fun to do with a friend. So, go grab a friend or two and start getting fit together.