Summer is finally here, and as Canadians, we know we must cherish, and take advantage of the few warm months that our country has to offer. The prevalence of technology however, stilts motivation and keeps many of us glued to our computer and televisions screens even in the summer. The Duke of Ed recognizes, and is concerned about the epidemic of inactivity among Canadian youth. More than 26% of children and youth are overweight or obese. That is 1.6 million people! Exercise is important not just for your physical health, but it is incredibly important for your mental health as well. Exercise increases both serotonin production and release. Serotonin is the chemical in your brain that carries signals between nerves and is responsible for maintaining your mood balance. A fun activity can lift you out of a bad mood, build your confidence, and create lasting friendships all the while reducing stress. After a great day of exercise, you’ll sleep better at night, leaving you nice and refreshed for the next warm summer morning. Here are just a few ideas to get you moving. Don’t be afraid to leave your own fun ideas in the comments!
1. Join a Sports Team
Engaging in sports is so much more than just a fun way to stay active. It’s also a fun way to make new friends, and to learn the art of anticipation. Learning to anticipate your opponent’s next move can save you from needlessly running back and forth on the field or the court, and paves the way for innovative and creative thinking as you head out into the work force. Being part of a team also provides excellent practice for building leadership skills. When on a team, you will learn that being a leader entails much more than simply taking charge, and being in control. Being a leader is about knowing when to carry the ball, and when to pass it. It’s about knowing when to encourage your teammates, and when to make helpful suggestions. The best part of being on a team? You don’t have to do anything alone. You win together, and you lose together. Most importantly, you have fun together!
2. Go For a Swim
Swimming offers the ability to work your body without a large impact on your skeletal system. Submerged in water, the human body gets lighter – with water all the way up to your neck you only have to bare 10% of your own weight. No wonder astronauts practice their space walking in water! Swimming is a great way to loosen stiff and sore joints and to improve flexibility. The most appealing aspect of swimming? It keeps you cool on those long hot summer days. Don’t forget the water-proof sunscreen though. You don’t want to end up the colour of a lobster!
3. Toss a Frisbee
If you’re already headed to the beach for a swim, why not throw a Frisbee in your bag to toss around while you’re taking a break from the water? Running on the sand tones up leg muscles and strengthens your arms, backs and abs. It’s also a great way to get a laugh while watching your friends run all over the place while you ‘accidentally’ throw the Frisbee too far.
4. Go For a Run
Running – it’s not just for marathoners anymore! Running can be done by anyone, anywhere and at any time. Running every day helps keep the doctor away, and helps to reduce serious health risks like heart disease and cancer. Not only does it boost your memory, (you will own trivia night) but it boost your metabolism as well. Now you can eat all the bread and pasta you want, while still being able to slip into your skinny jeans. It’s a win-win!
5. Take a Walk
For those who like to take in their surroundings at a slower pace, with at least one foot always on the ground, then walking is the activity for you! Walking is often dismissed as an effective means of exercise, but even twenty minutes a day can lead to considerable health benefits, like adding an extra 7 years on to your life. That’s an entire dog year! Most importantly, when you are walking, you aren’t sitting, which is an impressive feat in of itself, ne’est-ce pas?
6. Do Some Yoga
We live in a fast paced world, and the pressure of school assignments, grades, parents and extracurricular activities can bring out the anxiety in even the calmest and level headed individuals. Yoga is one such extracurricular that slows you down with its keen emphasis on the mindful practice of tuning into your emotions. Yoga is as great for your health as it is for your state of mind. It boosts your immune system, regulates your breathing, and ultimately leads to better circulation helping your organs to function better. And if all of that doesn’t convince you that yoga is a great activity, how about this nifty little life-hack? Yoga is all about the practice of blocking out your surroundings. Sorry Mom and Dad! I can’t hear you – I’m practicing my mindfulness!
7. Ride Your Bike
Cycling helps build new brain cells, and let’s be honest – most people need as much help as they can get in that department. It is a legitimate method of transportation that is great for exploring and getting you from point A to point B faster than you’re feet. It’s a fun way to build those thigh muscles, and best of all, you’re helping to save the planet!
8. Climb a Tree
The greatest thing about trees is that you can find them everywhere, and their branches are always begging to be clambered! Pick a tree with low branches that you can easily latch onto, and pull out your thinking cap to discover the safest ways to climb from one spot to another. Tree climbing is great for your coordination and strength, and an exciting way to exercise your problem solving skills when you inevitably need to get down. Don’t be afraid to take a few calculated risks, but be careful you don’t climb higher than you can handle – summer casts are the worst.
9. Jump Rope
No one is saying you have to go double-dutch, but skipping even one rope helps improve your coordination by making you focus on your feet. Regularly jumping rope decreases foot and ankle injuries and improves breathing efficiency. Because you are working your brain and body at the same time, these synchronous and harmonious coordination’s improve your ability to stay calm. This is an easy activity to get into that will help you to prepare for the strenuous days of your adventurous journey!
10. Mow the Law
This one may seem tedious and boring, but hear us out! Take a look around your neighbourhood. Most people have a growing lawn, but not everyone can (or wants to) mow it. Mowing the lawn has the same benefit as a long, steady cardio workout, and it’s a great way to impress your parents, and your neighbours. Now’s your chance to be a hero, and who knows? You might make some extra cash while doing it!
Physical activity is the key to living a happy and healthy lifestyle. The proof is in the statistics. 87% of The Duke of Ed participants enjoyed their physical activity, and 79% of participants continued in the activity after completing The Award requirements. All of these undertakings are great for your body, spirit and mind, and will help you to live longer. The longer you live, the more activities you can experience. So, get out there, break a sweat, and have some fun!