Simple ways to have an active summerWith the beautiful days of summer ahead of us it’s time to get outside! Enjoying the weather can naturally lead us to be more physically active, which is good for both our minds and our bodies. Let’s intentionally embrace these opportunities and find pleasure in our movement this summer!

There are ways to  incorporate physical activity into your daily life and make it fun, so that it doesn’t feel like work. With so many amazing places to explore physical activity doesn’t need to be repetitive, boring, or expensive.

Let’s look at some ways to make this a great, active summer!


Incorporate Physical Activity Into Your Everyday Life

If you live a busy life and struggle to find time to be active, try to incorporate it into your daily life.

  • Choose a parking spot far away from the building when out and about.
  • Walk, or bike, places if possible when running errands, getting together with friends, etc.
  • Carry your child or give them a piggy back ride to the car, the lunch table, or bedtime.
  • Race up and down the stairs in between other less active pursuits.
  • Take the stairs, rather than the elevator.
  • Chop your vegetables, instead of using a food processor.
  • Talk and walk (when getting together with a friend, having a meeting with a coworker, or when taking phone calls).
  • Establish the habit of taking an after dinner walk.


Make It Fun

Movement doesn’t have to be hard. If you find something you enjoy, you will do it more often. Ideally, you should feel energized after physical activity. Yes, you may be a little sore or tired, but it should not be something that completely wipes you out or causes you true pain. And it shouldn’t be something you dread!

First, think about your personality and current needs.

  • Do you need some time alone?
  • Would you prefer some company?
  • Do you need to start small?
  • Are you ready for something more intense?

Now, pick a couple activities to start with.

  • Go to the park and play with your kids
  • Take a walk with (or without) a coworker on your lunch break
  • Ride a bike
  • Do a yoga video
  • Swim some laps (or enjoy water slides)
  • Jump rope or jump on a trampoline
  • Play hopscotch
  • Have a water balloon fight
  • Take a dance class
  • Try rock climbing
  • Play tennis
  • Explore your city (or a city near you) on foot

For more ideas check out the article, Simple Ways to Stay Active This Summer.


Plan Bigger Excursions For Days Off

There are so many fun places to explore that will get you out in nature and keep you active. While many of these place could be enjoyed in a brief visit, taking some extra time will enhance your experience.

Don’t be afraid to try something new! You might surprise yourself by finding a new passion (canoe, archery, hiking, biking, etc.)

Activity and the Brain

Many parents want to provide academic enrichment for their children over the summer. While there is nothing wrong with including this type of enrichment, it is important to recognize the huge impact movement has on the brain.

A study, conducted at the University of Illinois, actually found an association between physical fitness and the brain in 9- and 10-year-old children. Children who were more fit tended to have a bigger hippocampus and perform better on a test of memory than their less-fit peers.

“Previous studies in our lab have reported a relationship between fitness and white matter integrity in older adults," Kramer said. "Therefore, it appears that fitness may have beneficial effects on white matter throughout the lifespan." He continued to explain that being sedentary was the real problem, as just a bit of movement each day supported the brain’s white matter. Check out the following article on Why Physical Activity Is So Good For Your Brain?


Include Time For Unstructured Play

Don’t forget to let the kids have plenty of free and unstructured play! Many of us spent nearly our entire summer outside playing with friends in the neighborhood. We were responsible for our own fun, and we learned so much through it!

Unstructured play give children the opportunity to explore their own interests, while developing creativity, and independence. When playing with friends outside, they learn to negotiate and corporate with others.

Free play is also great for their physical development. According to Angela Hanscom, author of Balanced and Barefoot, “It is during free play, where children move and challenge their bodies in new ways, constantly testing their limits and getting to the next developmental level. When we take away their time for free play and instead replace this time with adult-directed exercise, it limits the type of movement experiences these children receive”.

I hope you have a wonderful, active, healthy summer! As always, let me know if there is any way that I can assist you in making this a great summer.

Dr. Jamie