Healthy families who stay physically active generally tend to be happy families, as exercise can reduce the risk of illness and disease, and improve your mood and mental wellness. The second Saturday in June of every year is observed as Family Health and Fitness Day. This special day was created by the National Recreation and Park Association and promotes the role of parks and recreation in keeping families and communities healthy.
This year, celebrate Family Health and Fitness Day on Saturday, June 12, 2021, by taking your loved ones to your favorite local park or outdoor fitness facility. Here are activities you can enjoy, along with the roles they can play in improving your health and well-being all summer long.
Enjoy a Picnic
Begin your family outing with a picnic. Choose healthy and nutritious foods that can boost your energy, such as sliced fruits and vegetables, salads, granola bars, whole-wheat bread, and plenty of water. Avoid picking up fast food or packing sugary sweets, as these foods could make you and your family feel sluggish, tired, and less energetic.
Set up your picnic in the shade under a large tree, or in the sun as long as it’s not too hot and everyone has wide-brimmed hats, sunscreen and protective clothing. Sunlight stimulates the body’s production of vitamin D, which contributes to stronger bones and immunity.
Learn About Nature and Wildlife
Walk around the park to identify trees, plants, birds, bugs, and other nature or wildlife you’re not familiar with, then use your mobile device to learn more about them on the Internet. Type descriptions of the bugs or plants into your search engine to try to identify their names, then look up fun facts you can share about them with your family. For example, look up certain birds to learn more about the types of foods they eat or their unique mating calls. Wanting to spend some time away from the screen? Visit the local Lompoc Library to borrow a wildlife inspired book to learn more about nature.
Visit the Playground
Head to the park’s playground area if you have young children. Have you been to the new handicap accessible playground and exercise area at Beattie Park in Lompoc? Push your kids on the swings, spin them around on the merry-go-round, or help them climb ladders to the long, tall slides. Playgrounds give your children the opportunity to play with and meet other kids and allow them to expend all their energy before you head back home. In Lompoc we are fortunate to have adult exercise equipment as well, so we can all enjoy the park.
Throw a Frisbee Or Play Frisbee Golf
Frisbee is a fun game for people of all ages that can be played at nearly any park in a large, grassy area. Make sure the ground is relatively level and flat, and look for any divots or holes before playing to reduce the risk of injuries such as a sprained ankle. Many parks, including Beattie Park, also have nine- or 18-hole Frisbee golf courses for those who enjoy combining these two fun recreational sports.
Play An Old Childhood Game
Teach your children how to play one or more games you remember from your own childhood, such as Kick the Can; Four Square; Hopscotch; Jump-Rope; Red Light, Green Light; and Mother, May I. These highly active and traditional games are still fun today and can introduce your kids to new games they can teach their peers about. Simon Says, Capture the Flag, Freeze Tag, and Red Rover are other fun classic playground games you can teach your children and their friends.
Have a Photo Contest
Have everyone in your family bring a cell phone or digital camera to the park, then send everyone on a mission to take photos of nature and wildlife, or other scenery. If your children do not have a camera, you can have them draw their favorite scenery with crayons, markers or pencils. Afterward, have everyone share their best photos and vote on the best ones. Reward the winner with getting to choose the next game you will play or the next park you will visit as a family. You may even want to display the photo in your home as a memory of a beautiful day outdoors.
Fill a large bag with a variety of balls you can throw or kick around at the park, then spend time in the grass or on the fields playing various games with your family. Bring a football, baseball, kickball, beach ball, or any of your family’s other favorite sporting balls and accessories.
Head to the park on your favorite set of wheels, whether it be your bike, roller skates, scooter, or skateboard. River Bend Bike Park is a great option for those with bicycles. Cruise around with your family, and enjoy the local sights and surroundings. Cardio exercises such as these offer a wide range of health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease, weight regulation, stronger immunity, and better quality sleep.
Go on a Scavenger Hunt
Organize a traditional scavenger hunt, or photo scavenger hunt for your family that sends them through the entire park, looking for various clues and prizes. Create a list of photo scenarios for your family to take in a certain time frame for a photo scavenger hunt. For a traditional scavenger hunt, place clues under rocks, nestle them into tree trunks, or hide them in other places where they can only be found by someone who is deliberately looking for them. Consider adding educational clues and riddles into your scavenger hunt to have your family members look for certain types of plants or small monuments. Located 3 miles outside of Lompoc, Miguelito Park would be a great place for a scavenger hunt.
Play With the Family Dog
Look for parks in your local area like Barkin Park behind the Lompoc Movie Theater, with designated dog runs and dog parks where you can let your pet roam and wander free off their leash. Bring your dog’s favorite toys or balls and play catch. Or, look for parks with hiking trails and paths so you can take your dog on a long walk with the family. The La Purisima Mission is a great dog friendly choice. Please remember to check the weather for your furry friends, bring them water and to pick-up after them.
Check Out Outdoor Fitness Facilities and Trails
Adjacent to Lompoc High School, Huyck Stadium recently received a major upgrade. The facility now boasts an upgraded track and field as well as an outdoor exercise zone all open for free public access at certain hours throughout the week. Hours of operation and additional information is available on the City of Lompoc Parks and Recreation website. Looking to explore local trails? Join Healthy People Healthy Trails this summer to explore new parks, trails and outdoor spaces throughout Santa Barbara County.
Parks and organizations that are hosting special events may need volunteers to help facilitate certain activities. Look out for future community events hosted by the Healthy Lompoc Coalition by following their social media pages and newsletter. Sign up your family to volunteer at these events, as volunteer work is shown to have a variety of health benefits. Volunteering can reduce stress and depression, gives a sense of purpose, and allows you to bond and network with people from other walks of life.
Family Medicine Services at Lompoc Valley Medical Center
A close partner of the Healthy Lompoc Coalition is the Lompoc Valley Medical Center. LVMC offers a wide range of primary care services, including family medicine for patients at all stages of life. Visit LVMC’s provider page today to make an appointment and to learn more about our many available healthcare services for you and your family.