By: Carolyn Bower ~
As Covid-related restrictions are lifted, getting outside in the fresh air is a welcome opportunity.
Outdoor activities offer a wide range of physical and mental benefits. Here are several to explore! Some may be familiar, while others may offer a new challenge.
Originating in Finland as a training exercise for cross-country skiers, Nordic walking has grown popular for many adults since due to its health benefits. It naturally aligns the spine and targets the arms, waist, hips, and thighs. All you need are sturdy walking shoes and two upright poles. See a sporting goods expert to properly size you for the walking poles, and make sure to stay hydrated in the summer heat. Find more information at https://www.americannordicwalking.com.
A tasty summertime activity combining fresh fruit with outdoor exercise, fruit picking is also a great way to learn about different varieties of fruit and what’s involved in growing different types. A local community fruit farmer is a wealth of information to anyone who wants to pick their fruit, and you can pick fruit alone or with friends and family. Either way, it’s an opportunity to find quality, healthy fruit while helping farmers. For example, you can pick blueberries and blackberries at Blueberry Hill Farm in Edom, TX. Check out www.blueberryhillfarm.com.
You can go metal detecting on the beach, around lakes, the woods, and parks, all while enjoying low-impact exercise with kids and adults alike. It’s a great way for different generations to share in the excitement of finding “treasures.” Get a lightweight metal detector offering a hip mount for easy carrying. There are also rules and laws to follow, depending on what location you visit. Check out https://www.smarterhobby.com/metal-detecting/responsible-metal-detecting/ for more information.
Enjoy nature while identifying and learning about birds! A guidebook is very helpful, especially one specific to your area since bird species vary by region. A good pair of binoculars or bird-watching scopes and telescopes offer quality vision and clarity. Also useful: A daypack to hold a hat, dry socks, water bottle, and notebook/pen. The American Birding Association at https://www.aba.org has a wealth of information.
Minigolf is fun for all ages, providing exercise, stress relief, and an energy boost for kids, parents, and grandparents alike. The game is an excellent way for a family to spend time together, or for a friend or two to get exercise, have fun, and improve stamina.
Part treasure hunt and part environmental cleanup, trash fishing removes litter from the water and cleans up animal homes. It also protects fish, turtles, and birds from getting tangled in debris. You can use a net, shovel, rake, or trash picker, but a good pair of gloves is a great idea, as much of the debris found could be dirty or have sharp edges. Go to https://www.fishforgarbage.org/ for insight into this environmental activity.
Grab your camera and get outside! Taking photos of nature and people, landscapes, or animals is a great way to express your creativity. Experiment with black-and-white images or use color to brighten the frame. It’s also a great way to meet new people and share ideas. The Photography Society of America (www.psa-photo.org) offers information and tips for aspiring photographers.
Summer is a great time to learn, explore, and enjoy outdoor activities. Fresh air, exercise, and interacting with others are perfect ways to keep the mind alert and the body in peak condition.