School is beginning to wind down, and so are all of my kids’ sports and activities. I want to make sure that they stay healthy and active this summer—Netflix is off-limits. What can we all do together that’s fun, energizing, and interesting? —Erin
I think it’s great that you want the whole family to get moving this summer! A lot of us forget, but kids need exercise—a minimum of 60 minutes, seven days a week according to the Centers for Disease Control, including both aerobic and muscle- and bone-strengthening activity.
Hiking covers both types, and it’s one of the easiest (and most inexpensive) ways to get moving—the constant change in scenery keeps those with short attention spans engaged, too. Check the National Park Service map to see which parks and forests are close to you; you can find trails that range in difficulty and complexity to satisfy everyone from novice to expert hikers.
Spending the whole day outside with the fam, especially during summer, requires some planning ahead: snacks, sun protection, hydration, and bug repellent are all on the must-pack list! Here are just a few of my hiking bag essentials.
Elemental Herbs Sunscreen Stick, SPF 30
No excuses for pink cheeks when you’ve got this little guy on hand. It’s free of chemicals (read: totally kid-safe), and formulated with natural zinc oxide and organic oils like jojoba, coconut, and avocado to keep skin protected and moisturized. Remember that any SPF over 50 is usually a waste of money—many of these products are mislabeled and not as strong as they claim, contain more harmful additives, or don’t shield skin properly from UVA rays. This spill-proof stick does the trick, as long as you reapply as needed (at least every two hours).
Last summer bug bites were an itchy, somewhat painful annoyance. This year they’re a legit threat to your health. In 2016, Zika has been all over the news, and Lyme disease–carrying ticks have been found all over the U.S.—not just in the northeast, where they’re usually a danger. Skip the 100 percent DEET formula (if it can melt plastic, it’s probably not wise to spray all over your bod), and even the questionable 30 to 60 percent DEET sprays and opt for an all-natural bug spray. All Terrain’s is made with six pest-repellent oils that smell delightful, and it’s also 100 percent effective for two hours.
A health coach and nutritionist recommending jerky? OK, hear me out—this is not the same as that preservative-filled stuff at your local gas station, which is coated with artificial flavors and feels like cardboard (no wonder it never goes bad!). EPIC is different—it's made with grass-fed beef liver and beef, sea salt, black pepper, celery powder, and onion powder. Each bite is tender, easy to chew, and surprisingly non-sticky. Have vegans in the group? Watch the vid to see my favorite plant-based snack!
Whether you pack waters, coconut waters, or all-natural sports drinks, staying hydrated is the key to staying happy and healthy out on the trail. You’ll definitely need to replenish the body’s electrolyte stores and fluids to stave off dehydration after a few hours of sweating. Coconut water is a great option because it’s high in potassium, sodium, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorous—all essential electrolytes that your body craves during exercise.
Watch the video to see the rest of my day hiking necessities, and let us know where you’ll be exploring the great outdoors this summer!