With the hot dogs, burgers, and beer that often come with 4th of July celebrations, packing in extra calories is a piece of (cheese)cake. This Independence Day, instead of a hot dog eating contest as the only family activity, why not bring the gym to the great outdoors?
Here are some of our favorite outdoor activities, complete with strategy and tips to help get the most out of a patriotic day in the sun:
Get a partner and try not to fall! This classic race mixes cardio, balance, and (perhaps most importantly) teamwork.
- The Greatist Way: Be sure to grab a partner around the same height for better stability. For balance and speed, wrap an arm around each others' waists and start off with the “third” leg. Make sure the knees are slightly bent and both partners are running at the same pace toward the finish line.
Ditch the potatoes and grab some burlap, because this race is bound to get the heart pumping.
- The Greatist Way: In the fitness world, this could even count as plyometric training, harnessing the explosive action of jumping to build strength and speed. Hop to victory by minimizing time on the ground for maximum speed.
Run, freeze, run, freeze! Freeze tag reminds us of interval training, and for good reason.
- The Greatist Way: Constantly running, stopping, and dodging “tags” taxes the cardiovascular system and also demands more than a smidgen of agility. To add a special touch to this classic, try to play at night with different colored glow stick necklaces. Just make sure the field of play is free of an major obstacles. Like glow stick-loving bears.
The world's most popular sport, soccer (er, fútbol) can builds endurance and coordination with every kick.
- The Greatist Way: The virtually non-stop running game can burn hundreds of calories and involve up to 6 miles of running over the course of a standard game. The backyard version might not result in the same distance covered, but it still packs a lot of potential for both fun and fitness. And the only thing needed to bend it like Beckham is a ball and makeshift goals.
Try power-walking on the hands and not be sore the next day.
- The Greatist Way: Wheelbarrow racing builds shoulder strength and stability and is often used as a warm up drill for many sports teams. Try incorporating some creative strategies like these to win the race.
From legs and abs to arms and back, this ex-Olympic sport is a test of full-body strength.
- The Greatist Way: To dominate the competition, be sure to have an underhand grip with arms fully extended (as opposed to wrapping it around the arms). Tug-of-War is a game of push, not pull, so concentrate on pushing with the legs to drag the rope. To the victor go the spoils (aka the bragging rights)!
Getting everyone involved in physical activities is a great bonding experience and could even help alleviate those post-dessert woes. At least a little.
All that talk about fitness making you hungry? Don't Miss: 43 Healthier Fourth of July Recipes