Father's Day Fitness: 5 Family-Friendly Fitness Activities

Instead of getting your papi a tie this Father's Day, invest in the health of the entire familia by staying active while spending quality time together.

Share the love, get fit, and create memories with one of my family-friendly options:

Natalie's 5 Family-Friendly Fitness Activities

  1. Team sports: Instead of watching Dad's favorite sport, play it! Level the playing field so that everyone can participate by choosing easier variations of popular sports like T-ball, flag football, or yoga ball soccer.
  2. Golf: Keep your papi company as a fellow competitor or caddy on 9 or 18 holes. For groups of mixed endurance levels, try shorter pitch and putt courses or beginner-friendly driving ranges or mini golf courses for fun family outings.
  3. Boating: Sailing is a great summer sport that will keep you cool as you stay active. No nautical experience? Canoeing is easy to learn and is a great group activity, as I describe in Fitness: 4 Reasons to Try Canoeing this Summer.
  4. Walk or run: If Dad loves the outdoors, hiking is a perfect way to explore new places and is great for any fitness level as I explain in Fitness: 5 Reasons to Take a Hike. Competitive? Speed it up and participate in a Father's Day 5k run or walk. My dad and I have started a new tradition of taking "photo safaris" where we meet at a beautiful place and walk around as we take photos. Find an activity that fits your interests and keeps you moving.
  5. Yard games: Keep things chill at your casa while playing a fun outdoor game like bocce ball, frisbee, or a bean bag toss while preparing a healthy, delicious meal on the grill.

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If Dad is too far for a joint workout, encourage him to get moving with a fitness-related gift like sports equipment or a gym pass.

Physical activity is a great gift for family members to give each other. Padres: modeling physical activity for your children is muy importante, especially when more than 1/3 of children in the United States are overweight or obese, which can be caused by inactivity as well as a poor diet. Taking care of your health is important for your kids, too. Your hijos want you to be active in their lives as long as possible and regular activity can extend life and reduce your risk of chronic diseases.

This Father's Day create and experience a fun, family fitness activity. You will love the quality time spent together and will feel great from the workout and the knowledge that you are helping your familia live a healthy life.

¿Need workout inspiration? Click here to read more of my fitness suggestions.

The Wise Latina Club's Natalie Wagner Fierro

A teacher by day, The Wise Latina Club’s Natalie Wagner Fierro is the co-founder of the Institute for Student Health. She equally loves food (cooking or dining in Washington’s restaurants) and burning calories by distance running, practicing yoga, and archery. Click here to read more about and connect with Natalie.

What family fitness activities will you do this Father's Day weekend?

Fitness: 4 Reasons to Try Canoeing this Summer

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An Oklahoma native, I am no stranger to hot summer days. When temperatures rise, I stay motivated to move by choosing fun new activities that don’t feel like a workout.

Last week when the thermostat hit 90, I moved my classroom to the canal where my students and I stayed cool and active canoeing.

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¿Canoeing¿As in summer camp and row, row, row your boat?

¡Sí! Canoeing is a fun activity anyone can do. This long open boat usually holds 2-3 people who work together to paddle across still or moving water. Although most of our group was new to this water sport, everyone learned quickly and had a great time.

4 Reasons to Try Canoeing

  1. Get a great workout for any fitness level: Rowing works your shoulders, back, and core--a great way to sculpt for summer swimwear! You control the pace, so beginners can take it easy while they get their sea legs, as advanced athletes kick it up a notch with canoe races or “sprints” of paddling at top speed for short increments. No motor means you’ve gotta work it to move.
  2. It's a great group activity: Upcoming family vacation or girls weekend? Canoeing is even more fun with others. Help your crew row and keep each other entertained with good conversation. 
  3. Trying new things makes it easy to stay active and in shape: Unless you work at the boathouse you probably won’t be paddling the river every day after work. The novelty of this nontraditional workout makes it easy to push yourself and work harder than you do in your regular routine.
  4. Canoeing provides a refreshing change of scenery: Rushing water, green scenery, cool breeze, I always feel energized after being in nature. Spending time outdoors does wonders for your body and mind, as I explain in Fitness: 3 Reasons to Exercise Outside.

¡Sounds fun! ¿Where can I canoe?

Look up a boathouse or rowing club in your area where you can rent canoes hourly or for the day, like I did with my amigas in college to make the long drive to the river worth it.

Don't let lack of experience hold you back. Most rental services provide a brief lesson to get you started and you can brush up on canoeing basics here.

Loved it? Also try closed kayaks and leg-propelled paddle boats, or get a boat-inspired workout on the rowing machine at your gym.

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Tips for a Successful Canoe Trip:

  • Always wear sunscreen: The water may keep you feeling cool, but the sun is still burning down!
  • Wear a life vest: Even strong swimmers can be caught off guard.
  • Avoid sudden or jerky movements in the boat.
  • Tie your supplies down and keep electronics in a waterproof container or pouch.

Instead of using the summer heat as an excuse to skip your exercise, keep moving with a water sport like canoeing.  When you're having fun and trying something new, you won’t even notice you're working hard.

¿Need workout inspiration? Click here to read more of my fitness suggestions.

The Wise Latina Club's Natalie Wagner Fierro

A teacher by day, The Wise Latina Club’s Natalie Wagner Fierro is the co-founder of the Institute for Student Health. She equally loves food (cooking or dining in Washington’s restaurants) and burning calories by distance running, practicing yoga, and archery. Click here to read more about and connect with Natalie.

What are your favorite ways to stay active in the heat?

Fitness: 5 Reasons to Take a Hike

Ever since walking in the woods as a girl scout, hiking has been one of my favorite fitness activities.

You don't need a 50 lb pack or mountain trails to participate in this sport. I love this definition from one of my 8th graders:

"Hiking is taking a long walk because you want to."

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This week, my students and I traded our textbooks for tennis shoes and headed to Washington DC's Rock Creek Park for a day of trail blazing.

5 Reasons to Take a Hike

  1. You will get a total-body workout: Scrambling over uneven terrain and ducking under branches works your legs, knees, ankles, hips, abs, arms, and shoulders while giving you a cardio workout. That beats the treadmill any day! 
  2. It's a great group activity: Gather your girlfriends or take a family outing to the woods. Set a pace that fits your group's fitness level. Entertain kids (and adults!) with trail games, like a scavenger hunt to find something in nature of each color of the rainbow.
  3. Spending time outside is good for you: As I explain in Fitness: 3 Reasons to Exercise Outside and Mental Health Month Fitness: 5 Exercise Ideas to Reduce Stress, simply being outdoors is a great stress buster.
  4. Explore a new place: Some of our nation's most impressive and breathtaking sights are best appreciated on foot, like the pristine California Redwoods and Arizona's majestic Grand Canyon. Wherever you travel, walk around to discover the landscape as well as the city sights. 
  5. Hiking is free: While some popular parks may charge an entrance fee, many trails are gratis and you never have to pay to walk around your neighborhood. Skip expensive gear for day hikes and stick to your must-haves: comfortable shoes and a water bottle.

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A day in the woods had my group smiling and--gasp--learning. Although nature provides a sense of "getting away from it all," trails are busy with activity. Our observation skills were tested as we tried to identify the sounds we heard and observe the life around us. Birds, chipmunks, snakes, and bugs fascinated my urban students. 

Hiking sounds fun! ¿Where should I go?

¡Anywhere!

National Parks are a great resource to experience the country's natural beauty on well-maintained trails, yet only 9% of park visitors are Latino, according to the American Latino Heritage Fund. To ensure these beautiful places are conserved for future generations, we must appreciate and support them. Click here to find a national park near you or here to plan an active summer vacation that includes discovering Latino heritage areas and historic landmarks.

¿No trails close enough for your day trip? No problem. An urban hike around your city provides the same great mind and body benefits.

Hiking Safety Tips

  • Stay hydrated and always carry water.
  • Never hike alone in the wilderness and let someone know where you will be trekking.
  • Be able to recognize poisonous plants like poison ivy and poison oak and never eat anything you cannot clearly identify.
  • Wear insect repellent in the woods and check for ticks that can transmit Lyme disease at the end of your walk.

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Hiking is a fun activity that offers something for everyone: my students who discovered new things. So did I although I hike for the workout and time spent in nature.

The next time someone tells you to take a hike, thank them for the mental and physical health rewards you'll reap.

¿Need workout inspiration? Click here to read more of my fitness suggestions.

The Wise Latina Club's Natalie Wagner Fierro

A teacher by day, The Wise Latina Club’s Natalie Wagner Fierro is the co-founder of the Institute for Student Health. She equally loves food (cooking or dining in Washington’s restaurants) and burning calories by distance running, practicing yoga, and archery. Click here to read more about and connect with Natalie.

What do you love about hiking?

Mental Health Month Fitness: 5 Exercise Ideas to Reduce Stress

At one point while in school, I felt so overwhelmed and anxious in light of everything I needed to get done (¿sound familiar?) that I took an amigo's advice and met with a counselor.

Her first question: have you been exercising regularly?

¿Why was this psychologist talking to me about fitness?

May is Mental Health Month and we can significantly improve our mental wellness with exercise which is proven to reduce stress and anxiety by releasing feel-good endorphins, improving your body-image, and providing a platform to set and achieve goals.

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When I'm in a slump, these fitness activities increase my mood along with my heart rate:

5 Fitness Activities to Boost your Mood

  1. Go for a run: Push yourself to run faster or farther than you normally would and benefit from the sense of accomplishment as well as the cardio. I share ways I get motivated to run in Fitness: 45 Minute Run to the Mailbox.
  2. Get social with team sports or group fitness: Social contact is important to your wellness. Organized sports and group fitness classes provide structured interactions without the stresses of maintaining conversation. 
  3. Take a walk with a friend: Simply talking about your problems can relieve pressure. Set a date to stroll with a pal, letting the movement and the conversation lift your spirits. 
  4. Breathe deeply with yoga: Getting more oxygen to your brain decreases anxiety. Take a Hatha class which I describe in Fitness: Slow Down and Focus with Hatha Yoga, try these restorative poses at home, or just sit still and meditate.
  5. Dance: Music and movement are a powerful stress-busting combination. A fast-paced class like Masala Bhangra,which I describe in Fitness: Why Work Out When You Can Dance?, will put a smile on your face.

¿Pressed for time? No hay problema. I give you workout options for a tight schedule in Fitness: Four Reasons to Love Circuit Training and 2 Ways to Keep PE on Your Schedule

Enhance the feel-good power of any ejercicio by taking it outside. Just 5 minutes in green space can improve your self-esteem, as I explain in Fitness: 3 Reasons to Exercise Outside.

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If you or someone you love is struggling with mental illness beyond anxiety, consult a health care professionalAccording to the American Psychiatric Association, Latinos suffering from mental illness often go without professional treatment for a variety of reasons:

  • lack of insurance,
  • language barriers,
  • or cultural stigmas.

Many feel that mental illness is not a "real" disease or are ashamed to admit they are having mental health issues for fear of being labeled as loco.

Mental well-being is an important part of your health and there is no shame in seeking help.

Pledge to be proactive about mental health by adopting routines that keep stress levels low such as:

  • regular exercise,
  • getting plenty of sleep,
  • maintaining healthy relationships,
  • working on creative projects,
  • and eating a nutritious, balanced diet.

You can't control what life throws at you, but you can control how you react. When you feel stress creeping up, get moving--it will keep you looking and feeling your best.

¿Need workout inspiration? Click here to read more of my fitness suggestions.

The Wise Latina Club's Natalie Wagner Fierro

A teacher by day, The Wise Latina Club’s Natalie Wagner Fierro is the co-founder of the Institute for Student Health. She equally loves food (cooking or dining in Washington’s restaurants) and burning calories by distance running, practicing yoga, and archery. Click here to read more about and connect with Natalie.

What are your favorite workouts to relieve stress?

Fitness: Build Muscle Anywhere with a Resistance Band

Can't make it to the gym? Take it with you!

Resistance bands are lightweight and fit easily in your purse for a total body workout anytime, anywhere.

Elastic strips designed to help you strengthen muscles, bands are easy to use, no matter your fitness level. Begin with light resistance and simple moves. As you learn the ropes, step it up with increased tension and more complex exercises.

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¿Sí, pero... what exactly do I do with these resistance bands?

A variety of full body exercises!

Natalie's Upper-Body Resistance Band Routine

Complete 2-3 sets of 12 repetitions:

  • Shoulders: Lateral Raise. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart over the center of the band. Grip each end with arms by your side, palms facing in. With a slight bend in your elbows, raise your arms straight out to the side, then slowly lower.
  • Biceps: Standing Bicep Curl. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart over the center of the band. Grab each end of the band with each hand, your arms extended and palms facing up. Raise arms toward your shoulder bending at the elbow, then slowly lower. 
  • Triceps: Triceps Extension. Start with the band behind your lower back in your left hand. Hold the other end of the band over your head with your right hand, a slight bend in your arm. Raise your right hand until your arm is fully extended. Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side.
  • Back: Seated Rows. Sit with legs extended and place the center of the band behind your feet. With arms extended and palms facing each other, grab the band with both hands and pull towards you, bending at the elbows and squeezing your shoulder blades together. Slowly return to starting position.

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The variety bands add to my fitness routine keeps it interesting and helps me fit in the recommended two strength-training sessions a week

Ready for more?

Click here and here for great full-body band routines or create your own with these resistance band exercises.

4 Reasons to Tone with Resistance Bands

  1. Bands are portable. Fit in some bicep curls at the oficina while you listen to that conference call or go through a total-body routine in your hotel when traveling. 
  2. Bands are affordable. No need to stretch your budget, I bought a package of three bands for $10. This one-time cost is a great investment in your health!
  3. Bands provide multiple workout options. Changing up your routine helps you strengthen a variety of muscles while keeping workouts interesting and easy to commit to. 
  4. You will get a great workout. Don't be fooled--this small tool has a big impact. Keeping the band in alignment throughout each exercise incorporates stabilizer muscles, adding new intensity to old moves. Bands can strengthen isolated muscles, making them a great tool for physical therapy. 

As I write in 2 Ways to Keep PE on Your Schedule, efficient options that you can do anywhere are key to maintaining a regular fitness routine. There is no excuse to skip a workout when it's this affordable and fácil to fit into your day and bag! 

¿Need workout inspiration? Click here to read more of my fitness suggestions.

The Wise Latina Club's Natalie Wagner Fierro

A teacher by day, The Wise Latina Club’s Natalie Wagner Fierro is the co-founder of the Institute for Student Health. She equally loves food (cooking or dining in Washington’s restaurants) and burning calories by distance running, practicing yoga, and archery. Click here to read more about and connect with Natalie.

Where will you do a resistance band workout?

Mother's Day Fitness: 6 Healthy Activities to Do With Mom

Your mami put your needs before her own. This Mother's Day, put mom's well-being first.

Skip the brunch buffet and plan a healthy, active way to celebrate.

6 Healthy Mother's Day Activities

  1. Walk or hike: Walking is accessible for everyone, regardless of current fitness level. Start small by taking the dog around the block or get adventurous and hike a beautiful outdoor area.
  2. Ride bikes: Cruise the neighborhood or rent bikes to go sightseeing. Pedaling along the Oklahoma River with my mami is one of my favorite memories of this spring! I describe different ways to cycle in Fitness: 4 Ways to Spin Your (Bike) Wheels.
  3. Take a yoga class: Slow down with hatha, which I recommend in Fitness: Slow Down and Focus with Hatha Yoga,or challenge yourselves with power yoga, which I reviewed in Fitness: ¡Feelin’ Hot!. Breathe and enjoy a relaxing moment together.
  4. Run: Jog around the block or sign up for a Mother's Day 5k. One or both of you not in shape for a road race? Even better! Training can be a great bonding experience. Sound intimidating? Read how I stay motivated to run in Fitness: 45 Minute Run to the Mailbox.
  5. Play: Toss a frisbee or tackle the jungle gym at the park. Challenge the familia to a traditional group sport like tennis or basketball, or keep it silly with yoga-ball soccer or freeze tag.
  6. Garden: Digging in the dirt is a great stress reliever. Planting and pulling weeds gives you a workout. Spring gardening is always more fun with company!

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Exercise is essential to all women's health. It keeps us strong, gives us energy, reduces stress, and helps prevent heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, some types of cancer and depression. Although women only need 30 minutes of physical activity 5 days a week and strength training twice a week, we all struggle to fit it in.

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Family support makes it easier to adopt healthy habits which is something I know having learned at home from mi madre. Growing up, walking was a regular part our daily routine and I loved accompanying my mom to aerobics class as a middle school student. Today, we still catch up on long walks and have added yoga classes to our shared activities.

Whether you are going back to your madre for her health wisdom, sharing your own with her, or teaching your own hijos, encourage those you love to stay healthy which I write about in Two Ways to Bring Back Abuela’s Cooking.

Mom lives too far away to be your workout buddy? You can still keep each other motivated by sharing your fitness goals and progress on the phone or via social media.

Be active this Mother's Day to stay healthy while sharing quality time. In celebration of mothers everywhere--get moving! 

¿Need workout inspiration? Click here to read more of my fitness suggestions.

A teacher by day, The Wise Latina Club’s Natalie Wagner Fierro is the co-founder of the Institute for Student Health. She equally loves food (cooking or dining in Washington’s restaurants) and burning calories by distance running, practicing yoga, and archery. Click here to read more about and connect with Natalie.

How will you be active this Mother's Day?

Fitness: Step it Up with a Stair Workout

Looking for a workout that will burn fat and leave you with sculpted legs--just in time for summer?

Take the stairs!

I keep stair workouts in my routine because bounding up steps strengthens all leg muscles, from calves to glutes, keeping my legs toned for my mini-falda and strong for my first fitness love, distance running.

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Natalie, I don't even like to walk up stairs! Won't going up and down get boring? Can't I just take the elevator?

To keep my workouts interesting, I create short routines with some variety.

This week, I channeled my inner Rocky and designed this combination for you:

  • Start with stair walks: walk up the stairs, walk down. Repeat 2 times.
  • Step it up with stair sprints: sprint up the stairs, walk down. Repeat 5 times.
  • Kick it up a notch with stair hops: with feet hips width apart, jump up, and plant both feet on the next step. Pause between each hop to keep your balance. Walk down. Repeat 4 times.
  • Finish with stair walks: walk up the stairs, walk down. Repeat 2 times.

Twenty-five minutes later, my legs were burning and my heart pumping. Although this workout is challenging, the low-intensity descent made it easier to storm up the steps. I was so concentrated on my foot placement (hoping to avoid a tumble down the stairs), time flew by.

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Still not convinced?

Check out these 4 reasons to scale some steps:

4 Reasons to Step Up your Workout with Stairs:

  1. Climbing builds muscle, burns fat, and improves balance. It takes extra work for your músculos to work against gravity, providing a cardio workout that burns more calories than covering the same distance on flat ground.
  2. It’s free! No need for a gym membership. Climb the staircase in your casa or run up the bleachers at the nearest stadium.
  3. Stairs offer a variety of workout options.  Keep it interesting by changing up your location or routine and adding body-weight moves like lunges, tricep dips, and push-ups between climbs. Click here or here  for stair-based workouts and circuit routines.
  4. Prevent injury by strengthening more muscle groups. Health experts recommend cross training--performing workouts you don’t normally do--to lower your risk of injury in the sports you practice most. Stairs are great for all athletes, from runners to yogis, because they work core leg muscles.

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Stair Workout Safety Tips

  • Watch your step! Be sure your foothold is solid.
  • Stop if you have any pain in your ankles or knees.
  • Remember to wear sneakers with good ankle support.
  • If doing lunges or stair hops, don't let your knees extend past your toes.

No time to run the bleachers? No problem. Skip the elevator and take the stairs during your work day. In 2 Ways to Keep PE on Your Schedule, I explain that mini-workouts can have big rewards.

Take your fitness routine to the next level with a stair workout. You'll feel strong with the extra before-summer-bonus of great looking gams.

 

A teacher by day, The Wise Latina Club’s Natalie Wagner Fierro is the co-founder of the Institute for Student Health. She equally loves food (cooking or dining in Washington’s restaurants) and burning calories by distance running, practicing yoga, and archery. Click here to read more about and connect with Natalie.

How are you shaping up for summer?

Fitness: Slow Down and Focus with Hatha Yoga

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