Time to get creative

I talk a lot about leading a healthy, well-rounded, active life. Fitness means more to me than just logging miles on the treadmill, and I hate sitting inside for too long, especially on a sunny summer day. But, just like everyone else, I’ve got a to-do list as long as my arm–errands to run, bills to pay, writing and laundry to finish–all while keeping my boys from climbing the walls. It buzzes around in my head, creating anxiety, leading to less happiness and more tension. This summer, I’ve vowed to have enough structure in my days to feel in control of my responsibilities, but enough flexibility to enjoy time with my kids. I won’t always have such freedom, or such willing kids.

That means I’m trying to get creative with my workouts, combining effective calorie burning for me, with fun field trips for them. The gym is great (dirt cheap childcare, air conditioning, a gorgeous pool), and I’m sure I’ll use it plenty, but as Mike likes to say, “we live in a playground,” so why not get out and enjoy it.

Last summer I shared a park workout with you, and I still think it’s one of the best ways to multi-task kid-time with workout-time. What kid doesn’t love a trip to the park? Plus, there are tons of opportunities to squeeze in some great strength and cardio intervals, using body-weight, playground equipment, or portable exercise equipment like a jump rope, resistance band or even a TRX if you’re super spiffy. It’s on my wish-list.

If your kids are older, you can even get them in on the fun, designing an obstacle course or kid-appropriate exercise challenge: jumping rope, squat jumps, agility ladder, wheelbarrow races, etc.

Of course, we will be getting our hike on, doing trail time at some local favorites, as well as visiting some new places.

Another great idea is scoping out adventure parks, botanic gardens, and zoos that have free days or reasonably priced family memberships. A couple of months ago we went to the monthly free day at the Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield and had a great time.

Lots of open space for the kids to run around, good walking for adults, and plenty of grass for field sports or other exercises. In fact, we went again last Friday with my cousin and her kids, and the little ones played soccer and catch, and climbed trees. Granted the adults were a little less active, choosing to picnic on the lawn rather than join in the activity. We had a good excuse though: my cousin is days (days people! Seriously, so exciting!) away from giving birth. Good reason to rest a little, I say.

The zoo is another out-of-the-ordinary place to pack your day full of activity, while keeping the kids (and you) entertained. If your kids are juusst the right age to sit happily in a stroller, you can set a brisk pace, and still take in some new and exotic scenery. Much more exciting than your usual neighborhood loop. When I lived in San Diego, I saw people doing this at the Wild Animal Park and thought, “what a great idea!”

If you live by the beach, as we used to, you already know it’s the perfect spot for summer fun. Running, beach volleyball, frisbee, digging holes in the sand, boogie boarding or surfing, wave-dancing, and team bucket carrying are all top-notch calorie burners.

So, are you ready for summer? Any favorites I missed? I’d love to hear what you guys do to keep busy and active all summer long.

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