9 fun-filled summer activities while socially distancing and staying safe in the sun

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summer activies
Be ready to never hear the words, “I’m bored” again. Photo courtesy of Schoolyard Roots Lead Garden Educator, Natalie Wulf.

Can we still have an adventurous summer in the midst of COVID-19? The answer is YES, thanks to our friends at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama. The team has some safe suggestions for an active summer free of anxiety and full of fun in Birmingham.

There are still many ways to enjoy summer (safely)

It’s time to figure out where to go and what to do this summer. With COVID-19 looming about, these activities provide crowd-free options.

When your back yard is becoming claustrophobic

summer activities
Red Mountain Park is better than your average back yard, right? Photo via Matthew Niblett for Bham Now

If you’re starting to carve out a path in your back yard from the same activities, consider branching out to more options. Whether you decide to explore Birmingham’s beautiful parks or take a home workout class, switching up your routine may be just the thing you need.

1. Railroad Park at Home

We’re all pros at home exercise at this point, right? But a little help from the gurus at Railroad Park is the much-needed shake-up we all need. Discover at-home fitness videos like yoga and cardio or take them to the park!

Don’t forget to also try the circuit challenge along the exercise trail!

Video via Matthew Niblett for Bham Now

2. RootsRated

I’ve run into this problem more times than I can count. I’m eager to head to the outdoors, but I have no idea where to go. RootsRated solves that issue by giving me a variety of outdoor activities depending on my preferred location.

Video via Matthew Niblett for Bham Now

Say I want to find an outdoor hiking trail to take my dog, or I’m looking for a place with natural landmarks. I can easily search for those options in Birmingham, and RootsRated will pull up a great list of locations, such as Ruffner Mountain or one of our great biking trails.

Filling in for a canceled summer camp

RMTC
Red Mountain Theatre Company’s virtual summer camps allow your kids to stay connected and have fun. Photo via Matthew Niblett for Bham Now

The struggle is real when it comes to keeping the kiddos entertained while they’re out of school and now add a canceled summer camp. Luckily, these organizations have your back—not only are some of the summer activities they offer free, but your kids will also be learning new skills. (Maybe eating healthier too!)

3. SchoolYard Roots

A fun and educational summer project that leads to tasty meals? Sounds fake, but it’s real! Schoolyard Roots created a free toolkit about how to start a garden in your own home.

They took thousands of hours of research and compiled it into a neat, easy guide even the most novice gardener could follow. It even includes lesson plans for healthy, fresh meals using produce you grew yourself!

4. Huntsville Botanical Garden’s Nature Activities for Kids

The Huntsville Botanical Gardens might be providing the most adorable educational lessons for your kids yet! Through their at-home nature activities, your children can learn how to create a fairy garden, go on a worm hunt, and discover the world of Dr. Seuss in your backyard.

5. Red Mountain Theatre Virtual Theatre Camp

Have a junior thespian in your household? Help them build confidence in performing on stage and learn from the experts at Red Mountain Theatre’s Virtual Theatre Camp. In a few short weeks, you’ll have a musical prodigy on your hands.

If you’re really missing the arts

summer activities
Valerie Hanks with UAB’s Arts and Medicine walks us through a watercolor lesson that’s easy and also relaxing. Photo via Bham Now

Many live performances are put on hold, but that talent hasn’t disappeared. Actors, artists, musicians and more are pulling together resources for you to enjoy all summer long.

6. Alys Stephens Center Digital Content

We recently talked about how getting outdoors boosts your mental health, but the same can be said for learning a new skill. Relax with a lesson on watercolor or basic stitching through the Alys Stephens Center’s virtual classes.

7. Alabama Shakespeare Festival PLAY ON!

Theatre is transformative which is why canceled performances and activities have been so hard to bear. Play On, is filling in for what could’ve been with online acting workshops, streamed content and new original performances from actors across the country.

8. #BMAfromHome

Create, explore and dive deeper into the Birmingham Museum of Art’s world-renowned works of art through their online activities. From carefully crafted lesson plans to live discussions from inside the museum, there are endless possibilities to stay entertained.

9. Alabama Contemporary Art Center

Alabama Contemporary is doing a fantastic job at keeping art lovers connected and tuned-in while we’re apart. They’re hosting sculpture contests and doling out resources for children and adults that include everything from virtual workouts to free art demos.

Since we’re spending so much time outdoors, let’s refresh on what’s safe + what’s not

summer activities
Have you tried Disc Golf? It’s a growing activity in Birmingham that social distancing approved. Photo via Matthew Niblett for Bham Now

While springtime brought us cool mornings and pleasant afternoons, we know Alabama summers all too well to expect the same. Safety during hot days is incredibly important for you and your family, so we reached out to Dr. Darrel Weaver, Vice President Healthcare Networks Services, at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama.

1. Heat Exhaustion vs. Heat Stroke

Heat Exhaustion:

  • What: When you get so hot you become dehydrated, but you’re still able to sweat.
  • Solution: Get inside and drink plenty of water and electrolytes. Be very careful about the amount of time you spend outside for the next two days.

Heat Stroke:

  • What: Your body has lost the ability to sweat and cool down—this can be deadly.
  • Solution: Go inside and call 911 immediately.

“Water is great, but if you think you’re going to be really sweating, drinks with electrolytes such as Gatorade and Powerade are good to have on hand. If you’re getting too hot just stop and cool off.

One of the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke is not thinking clearly. That is truly a sign to go inside and ask for help.”

Dr. Weaver, Vice President Healthcare Networks Services, at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama
summer activities
Avondale Park is one of Birmingham’s outdoor gems for a walk or stroll. Photo via Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now

2. Choose the right clothing for strenuous exercise vs. moderate

“In general, lighter clothing is better. Darker clothing absorbs the light and heat, so the lighter the clothing the less it heats up.”

Dr. Weaver

Strenuous:

  • What: Running, walking or another kind of activity where you’re continually losing sweat.
  • Solution: Synthetic fabrics that keep sweat away from you.

Moderate:

  • What: Sitting out in the sun. Maybe walking a little bit, but not enough to be continuously moving.
  • Solution: Light cotton fabrics.
Disc Golf
Not only are these disco golf players being safe by wearing masks, but they’re also in proper clothing for the heat, including hats and cotton fabrics. Photo via Matthew Niblett for Bham Now

3. A few key points people forget

Don’t leave your house without a hat

“Hats are important. Your body loses a lot of heat through the top of its head and hats will retain that heat. You need a hat to keep from getting sunburned. If you have a fair complexion, a brimmed hat helps as well.”

Dr. Weaver

Just because you’re in the water, it doesn’t mean you’re safe from the sun

“Remember when you’re in the water, light is not just coming down from the sun. It’s bouncing off from the water so you’re getting a double dose of ultraviolet rays.”

Dr. Weaver

Pay particular attention to the humidity before heading outside

“The reason humid days feel worse is because they are. When your body sweats and that sweat evaporates to cool you off, the more humidity in the air, the slower your sweat will evaporate.

As your body tries to lose that heat, it ends up producing more sweat. You tend to become dehydrated and have problems such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke.”

Dr. Weaver

For more resources, reach out to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama through  www.AlabamaBlue.com. Or, find them on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

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