Health & Fitness: Gym-free summer activities

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Summer is a time to get outside and have some fun.

The new Wellness and Fitness Centre at Fanshawe is a great place to be this summer to beat the heat, however if you’re like me, you’ve been itching to soak up some rays or some fresh air and outdoor fun. There are so many ways you can be active outside, so I’ll breakdown the pros and cons and you can decide if they are good for you. I encourage you to give them all a try.


Feel the breeze and experience the runner’s high as you find your stride. Learn to run programs are everywhere and many sporting goods stores offer running gear clinics to get you properly outfitted. The downside is new runners need to take it slow and seasoned runners need to remember to cross train to avoid injury. It’s also best to run early in the morning or later in the evening when temperatures are not scorching.

Walking / Hiking:

You can do this anywhere. You don’t really need special gear, but I would advise you to match your gear to the terrain and the length of time you’ll be walking. There are so many walking and hiking trails in Ontario, you could likely keep going and never stop all summer! Be ready to take some beautiful pictures. It’s really hard to find a con to this other than I hope you have a special someone to walk with you.

Biking / Rollerblading /Scooter:

Anything on wheels that requires your physical power is challenging and fun. When was the last time you had rollerblades on? Did you know they make adult sized scooters and they make you feel like a kid again? London has many places to take your wheels. You could even join the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society of Canada Bike Tour from Grand Bend to London and put your riding to a good cause. Make sure to have a helmet and hydration. Take care on the roads and know your safety hand signals.

Team Sports (Soccer, Field Lacrosse, Football, Outdoor Basketball, Beach Volleyball, Ultimate Frisbee):

It may be too late to register for anything organized, but why not organize a friends and family or a classmates tournament? Perhaps there’s still time to be a part of a summer intramural league or maybe start something of your own for a few weeks. The hard part is getting everyone to commit and show up, so make it fun and think about adding incentives.

Watersports / Activities:

Everything from canoeing, wakeboarding, to swimming and in-between, all things aquatic can be a refreshing and exhilarating way to get active. Some of these things require lessons or special gear, but there are many clubs and organizations that offer lessons and gear rental. Get a group of friends together for a special group discount and stay cool. Be safe on boats and make sure your captain has a boating license and proper safety gear.

Golf / Frisbee Golf / Mini Putt:

These may be a bit lower key, but they are great for days when you want to move your body and not feel like you are training for the Olympics. If you haven’t tried frisbee/disc golf yet, it’s super fun. There is a course along the Thames River in London and you can buy discs at Canadian Tire.


I’m terrible at racquet sports, but I still love rallying a ball back and forth to a will opponent on a nice day. Depending on your level, this can get really intense and requires speed, agility and coordination and therefore high risk for injury. Play with someone more experienced or maybe take a lesson or two.

No matter what you choose, make sure you wear appropriate clothing, gear and sunscreen. Take water with you and know where there are sources of clean water in case you run out. Pack snacks for long trips and tournaments like trail mix, fruit, veggies and hummus, peanut butter sandwiches and healthy protein bars. Always tell someone your route and expected return and make sure to have a cell phone with you with plenty of battery life. Know the sign of heat stroke and make sure to have shade or a cool place to retreat to. Have a happy, healthy summer.

Karen Nixon-Carroll is the Program Manager at Fanshawe’s Fitness Centre.