Are you an outdoor person? We all are to some extent. We all need that glorious vitamin D the sun provides, most of us love the fresh air and the breeze in our hair. There’s a lot of world out there, yet most of us stay inside with our face stuck to our phone screens. I recall on TV one time a comedian (I don’t know who it was) was talking about the latest 3D videogame. The host went on about how “real” and “lifelike” the game looked. The comedian went on a rant to talk about how “real” and “3D” the real world is. Why sit in front of a TV or computer screen looking at “lifelike” graphics when you can simply go outside, meet your neighbor, attend a party, or enjoy some outdoor sports? I won’t go on too much about how important it is to get outside and socialize, we all know that. I want to focus on the sporting aspect. We all know staying active is good for you, your life, and your loved ones.
A few years ago I was out of shape. Not overweight, just out of shape. It seemed like all I did was work (behind a computer desk all day) and take care of the kids. There was never any time to get outside or workout. I was invited to play basketball by a C-level executive at my company. Obviously, you can’t say no, and basketball was always my favorite sport. Hell, I played in highschool, I’m sure I still had it in me. I was wrong. I ended up on the court with soccer players and cross-fit guys and gals. I got my butt handed to me and nearly died in the process. I barely completed two half court games before getting sick to my stomach. I had to leave early. From that point on, I knew how important it is to stay healthy throughout life, even when time seems scarce.
Now you’re wondering what the heck does this have to do with outdoor sports. I’ve found the key is to find something you love doing that keeps you healthy. Sports bring out the competitive nature in humans in a healthy, active, and fun way. Outdoor sports are a little different and don’t necessarily have to be competitive, they can just be active and fun! For example, when I go fishing it’s always a load of fun for the entire family. It’s not necessary to have the highest powered sports boat or most expensive fishing rod, we just go to be on the water, enjoy the beautiful scenery, and spend time with family. Being a relatively young parent (had my daughter at 20) of two young children, I know how important these moments are to them. Seeing my boy’s eyes light up every time we pull in the cast net and there’s a shiny fish in it is all that matters in that moment. That’s what life is, right, just a bunch of moments. Make the most of your moments and try to make other people’s moments great along the way.
How do we make these great moments? There’s no single answer, and everybody’s different, but finding what makes you and your close friends and family happy is a great place to start. You might find that watching TV makes you happy, which is great, but does it keep you healthy? The key is to find a sweet spot between fun and healthy. Pulling all-nighters drinking beer can be fun, but we all know it’s not healthy. Outdoor sports can offer a great balance of generating magic moments and memories with loved ones, keeping you healthy and active, and be a ton of fun. Imagine a time when kids didn’t want to spend all their time indoors watching Youtube or playing videogames. I feel a lot of parents (including myself) have failed our children. We failed to introduce them to the great world of outdoor sports. We failed to stress the importance of socialization at a young age. We failed to teach them to find an activity they enjoy that keeps them healthy.
This post isn’t only for children. We all need to find an activity that keeps us happy and healthy. Below I’ll go through some of the fun family activities I’ve found can rekindle the flame of love for the great outdoors in all generations, young and old alike.
Water Sports (kayaking, paddle boarding, jet skiing, swimming, etc.)
Water activities can be a great workout and super enjoyable. Just doing laps in the pool uses more muscled than you’d expect. The water resistance for all movement is better than most gym equipment! But if you don’t like being in the water, I get it. Not everyone likes having to carry around a change of clothes or keep up with soaking wet kids all day. That’s why we have boats. Kayaks and canoes offer a great workout. They’re not too expensive, and you get close enough to the water to enjoy some really great scenery. This is why kayaking is my favorite water sport. As long as you live near a lake, ocean, river, or even a pond, you can go kayaking. It’s hard to say exactly what it is about kayaking that intrigues people, but it seems like once you go on the water for the first time in your very own kayak, you don’t ever want to stop. You start thinking about it throughout the week, trying to keep busy to make time pass just so you can get to the weekend to get back out there. It’s an obsession of sorts, but a good obsession. One that will keep you happy and healthy for years to come. Kayaking is an amazing hobby filled with fun times and important life moments.
Exploring the great outdoors on foot can be just as relaxing as fishing and kayaking. It gets the blood pumping and isn’t tough on the joints, as long as you’re not long-distance hiking, which is fun too, but not for the beginner. Hiking allows your sole to be one with earth (the sole of your shoe). It doesn’t have to be a strenuous task. Take your family on a local trail, doesn’t have to be a mountain and see how you like it. Bring plenty of water and protein bars and look for some wildlife. Don’t miss out on these opportunities to take pictures and make moments while staying active and getting a workout.
Camping (or glamping)
Did you ever go camping as a kid? Do you have any good memories of camping? I know I do. My dad would take the family to a local campsite, cool hotdogs on a grill, spark a fire at night for marshmallows and s’mores. Good times and great memories. My brother and I were book worms so we’d bring a book with us but we rarely got time to read. Between picking a campsite, setting up the tent, and preparing meals, it’s all a ton of fun and relaxing excitement. You can’t go camping with a big work deadline looming over your head. Go with a clear mind and one objective: to make some memories with your family and show them a good time. Bring an instrument, some outdoor tools, a hatchet, a lighter, food and water and you’ll be in for a good time. Bug spray is always helpful. When picking a campsite, always look for one close to the water and with a big tree nearby. The tree will allow you to hang your food to keep any bears from stealing your dinner. Here are some nice tips for keeping your campsite safe from bears.
I’ve never personally been glamping, but I’ve heard good things. This can be a great way to slowly ease your 21st century, TV-glued family to the outdoors. Glamping makes camping seem more like a vacation where a lot of things are already set up for you. You just need to unpack and start relaxing!
Fishing Keeps You Young
People work their entire life just to retire to Florida and fish every day. Big news incoming: you don’t have to wait to retire to start fishing. Fishing is very peaceful whether you’re waiting for the five or so days of red snapper season to begin, or you’re just taking the kids down to the local pond with their Spongebob fishing pole and some bread. Fishing feels like meditation and can instill and re-invigorate some life lessons. For example, you don’t always catch something. You can’t see below the water (well, in most cases anyway), not many people can guarantee a catch. That’s not the point. The point is to be active and engaged in doing something you love with people you appreciate spending time with. You don’t have to be the one who goes home with their head down because you spent hours fishing and didn’t catch anything. Be the one who goes home with a good story, positive attitude, and memories to cherish. I want to add that I recently received a small cast net for Father’s Day and my kids and I absolutely LOVE it. Being able to cast it out and catch multiple fish in one throw and immediately ‘reel’ them in is a ton of fun for the whole family to see and be a part of.