True, the founding fathers were probably pros at hot dog and watermelon eating contests, but Independence Day celebrations can be so much more. A big get-together is the perfect way to get outside and organize a group fitness activity. So whether the crowd’s up for hardcore tug-of-war or hiking a historic trail, we’ve got it covered with 12 ways to get active on July 4th this year.
Find Your Inner Kid
1. Organize a Three-Legged Race: A three-legged race is not only a great way to break the ice — it’s also a workout for arm and leg muscles as we struggle to make it gracefully to the finish line. Pick a partner around the same height, wrap an arm around each others' waists, bend the knees, and prepare to start with the middle legs. And you’re off!
2. Tug It Out: No need to reenact the Battle of Lexington and Concord; just stage a less bloody version in the backyard. A tug-of-war tournament is a total-body workout for the legs, abs, arms and back muscles. (Seriously — it used to be an Olympic sport!) Take an underhand grip on the rope with arms fully extended and push with the legs to drag the rope.
3. Set Up a Scavenger Hunt: For extra patriotism points, go with a July 4th theme: Find American flags; red, white, and blue clothing; and dudes with beards. Everyone will get so caught up in the search they’ll forget they’re breaking a sweat running through the neighborhood.
Be a Good Sport
4. Kick Back: Chasing a soccer ball across the field for an hour is a great way to get some exercise in between devouring the barbecue and watching the fireworks. (Professional athletes run up to six miles over the course of a game!) If soccer seems too European for this all-American holiday, think like Thanksgiving and start a flag football game, which offers a similar workout.
5. Toss a Frisbee: The flag won’t be the only thing flying high this Independence Day. No need for a lot of space to toss around a Frisbee, bonding with buddies and giving the arms, legs, and abs a tough workout.
6. Step Up to the Plate: Few sports are more integral to American tradition than baseball. And its kid brother Wiffle ball can be just as much fun. That rush of glory sliding into home plate means an unbeatable cardio workout! Bored with batting? Keep the bases where they are and bring out the kickball.
Get Into the Holiday Spirit
7. Run a Themed Race: Whether you were born in the USA or just born to run, you can always join a Fourth-of-July-themed race. Choose a charitable one like the American Cancer Society run or bring the whole family for a race that’s all about fun. Check out this state-by-state map of Independence Day races!
8. Walk Back In Time: Give the brain and the bod a workout and tour a local historic site this Fourth. If there’s no official walking tour available, create your own or explore the place on a bike! (Hey, Ben Franklin didn’t have a car.) The more rugged crowd might want to stake out territory on an official American Trail — Pocahontas costume optional.
9. Join the Parade: Not to rain on your parade, but festivities can count as fitness, too. This year, get moving and march in your local Independence Day Parade Energy expenditure comparison between walking and running in average fitness individuals. Wilkin, L.D., Cheryl, A., Haddock, B.L. Departmnet of Kinesiology, Human Performance Laboratory, California State University, San Bernardino, CA. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 2012;26(4):1039-44. .
10. Everybody’s Gone Camping: Combine the benefits of a barbeque, a hike, and a good time with friends in a celebration camping trip! Check out this list of campgrounds reserved specifically for July Fourth, or find other camping grounds near you.
Go Wet ’n Wild
11. Play in the Pool: Bring the Independence Day bash to the beach or to a nearby pool this year. An afternoon of splashing is an easy way to sneak in some exercise while staying (and looking) cool. If aquatic fun isn’t enough for you, try these creative pool workouts.
12. Row, Row, Row Your Boat: Hang two lanterns this year and take a canoe, kayak, or paddle boat for a spin. You’ll get an awesome arm workout paddling around all day, plus boating’s a relaxing way to get active this Independence Day.
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How do you plan to get out and get moving this Independence Day? Share your plans in the comments below!