Join the National Recreation and Park Association in Keeping Your Community Healthy, Safe, and Active this Summer!’
June 12, 2021 is Family Health and Fitness Day! Every year, on the second Saturday in June, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) encourages families to stay healthy by heading to a nearby park and engaging in physical activity. Studies show that spending time in nature relieves stress, tightens interpersonal relationships and improves mental health.In fact, living close to parks is consistently related to higher physical activity levels for both adults and youth. An overwhelming majority of U.S. adults find exercising at their local parks, trails and open spaces “essential” to maintaining their mental and physical health during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than half note it is “very or extremely essential” to be able to walk, jog, hike and/or bike, and parents are even more likely to feel this way.
Prepare yourself adequately for a full day of fun by hydrating properly and stretching before and after any activity. If you’re about to embark on a hike, be sure to stretch your legs. The eccentric calf raise is a great option as it activates the important muscles of the lower leg and foot to help control your knees, ankles, and feet as they move over rough terrain. On hot, humid days, drinking plenty of water and avoiding direct sunlight is just as important to keeping your body functioning at its best. Wear a hat, apply sunscreen, and take frequent breaks in order to set yourself up for success.
This year, safety is especially important as the COVID-19 pandemic is not yet over. According to a recent article in The Washington Post, beaches and parks are some of the safest places you can gather. Continue to maintain social distance when possible and try to do things outdoors if you can. New York City has a variety of amazing parks and beautiful neighborhoods to walk through and explore if you’re in the area. Hike around Prospect Park in Brooklyn, ride your bike through Central Park in Manhattan, or venture to Chelsea and walk the beautiful High Line to make the most of what the city has to offer. When you’re done, have a picnic in one of the park’s many large open meadows. Be sure to pack plenty of water and maybe even a frisbee or a yoga mat! If going out to a restaurant is more your style, share a meal with the entire family at one of the city’s flourishing outdoor dining spots.
Should you prefer to escape the city and immerse yourself in nature, Harriman State Park is just an hour outside NYC and offers over 200 miles of hiking trails. They also have designated areas where you can go fishing, kayaking, and canoeing. Cold Spring is another popular destination close to the city with easy access to additional hiking trails like Breakneck Ridge, which winds up scenic mountains overlooking the Hudson River. Many restaurants in the area highlight local, seasonal produce so your healthy journey doesn’t have to end when your hike does either!
Did you know that regular exercise actually helps stave off severe cases of COVID-19? The New York Times notes that people who tended to be sedentary were far more likely to be hospitalized from COVID-19 than those who exercised regularly. Considering people probably spent a lot of time inside during the chilly winter, now is the perfect time to venture outside and get moving!
If the weather isn’t great, however, there are still plenty of ways to stay active and healthy indoors. Check out YouTube for a variety of free fitness activities online- you’ll find everything from yoga to HIIT to low-impact exercises to how to stay active in even the smallest of spaces. For those with kids, try setting up an indoor obstacle course, playing a game of freeze dance, or unearthing an old pillow case for sack racing! If that doesn’t tucker you out, try learning a new healthy recipe and cooking it with the family or visiting your local farmer’s market.
This should be a fun day to try new things and celebrate your body’s ability to keep moving, enduring and powering through! Let us know what kinds of activities you are planning on doing for Family Health and Fitness Day on June 12 in the comments.