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Posted on Aug 2016 in Feature

Catch the Olympic spirit!


The first Olympic Games of the modern era opened in Athens on April 6, 1896, and since that time this global celebration of friendship, solidarity, and fair play has become one of the most beloved sporting events ever.1 This year the summer Olympic Games are being held in Rio on August 5 – 21, with the Paralympic Games following from September 7 – 18.

Obviously it’s fun to gather together in front of the TV to watch world-class athletes compete – and rooting for your home team makes it even more exciting – but there’s another way to capture and celebrate the Olympic spirit. Why not challenge yourself and your family members to get moving? This is a great time to commit to finding fun new ways to increase your daily physical activity. After all, watching some of the finest athletes in the world compete is a wonderful way to get motivated to get moving yourself!

Don’t worry about your fitness or skill level; just start moving. Check with your doctor first before starting a new or challenging fitness program, particularly if you are older or have preexisting medical conditions. Chances are your doctor will be very happy to hear you’ve been inspired to get more activity and will give you advice for staying safe and healthy based on your age and health.

How to get a move on!

  1. Make it fun. Kids love reasons to get outside and run around, so turn your backyard or an area of your local park into a mini Olympics. Invite some participants (and enlist the help of their parents) and have a scaled-down version of the Olympic Games in your own neighborhood. Hold events like the 50-yard dash, bowling, obstacle course, egg and spoon relay, and synchronized sprinkler dancing! Have kids draw their own team flags and make sure to have awards and consolation prizes ready for all the participants.
  2. Challenge yourself and each other. It can be as simple as committing to going for an after dinner walk every single evening, and lengthening the walks a little bit each night. If you have a fitness tracker, increase your daily step count goal, or challenge friends and family to beat your daily step count. Perhaps the weekly winner gets a dinner out on the rest of the participants!
  3. Try something new. If you’ve always wondered about indoor rock climbing, thought bouncing at a trampoline park might be fun, or wanted to hike a trail in a local conservation area, give it a try! It’s also a great time to learn a new skill. If you can’t swim, take lessons, or if you’ve thought a tae kwan do course would be fun, sign yourself up.
  4. Play, play, play! The best exercise of all is the kind you don’t even realize you’re getting – and you get lots of that when you’re outside playing games. Don’t forget, you don’t have to join an official league to play soccer, baseball, or basketball; you just need a group of like-minded friends and a space to play. If you don’t have a large enough group, simply play catch, toss a Frisbee around, or play a little one-on-one at the schoolyard basketball court.
  5. Change your habits. Adding more activity to your day can sometimes simply mean changing the way you do things. Park farther away from the entrance to the store, take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk to the coffee shop instead of driving, or cycle to work instead of taking public transit. Every little bit of extra movement counts, so find ways to sneak it in throughout the day.

So maybe you won’t ever be an Olympic athlete, but their achievements can inspire you to reach a new physical fitness level of your own. It’ll make flopping down on the couch to watch the medal ceremonies that much sweeter.

For information about the benefits of physical activity as you age, and how much exercise you should get to reap the most benefits, check out our Move it or lose it article. For 10 tips on how to get more active with your kids or grandkids, read our article on how to have fun getting healthy.





414005A  CAN/US (08/16)

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