Amusement parks aren't just a mixed bag for me enjoyment-wise, they also present a challenge for those of us who are trying to stay healthy. Now, I love an elephant ear as much as the next person, but there are things we can all do to keep the health train chugging along while also having a blast with our kids.
Exercise1 of 7
You can find whole workout plans designed for people to do at amusement parks and playgrounds; for example, doing push-ups on benches or planks on trees. If that's what you're searching for, that's great, but you will look like a crazy person. People look at the mom doing step-ups on the park bench next to the Fun House and say, "Damn," but not for the reasons she probably thinks.
You can relax for the few hours you spend at the park and still have a fit day. Try exercising before or after you go, and don't forget that you will be doing a lot of walking while you're there. Grab a pedometer or activity tracker—you might be surprised by how many miles you rack up. Set an ambitious steps goal for the whole family and make a game out of reaching it.
And did you know that you burn calories even while on rides? You might be sitting down, but you're also using muscles to stabilize yourself while getting tossed around on that roller coaster.
Bring on the terror; I'm working on my abs!
Healthy Eating2 of 7
Healthy eating is not one of the amusement park's priorities. Sure, you can get corn on the cob, but it's probably been dunked in butter.
It's tempting to just say, "Screw it," grab some fried Oreos and call it a day. While I fully support eating an occasional fried Oreo (or my beloved elephant ears), I also believe in balance. If you're trying to avoid the sugar rush or the sluggish feeling that comes after it, know that many parks allow you to bring your own food.
Make sure to check your park's rules, but you should be able to throw some Tupperware containers in your bag with cut up vegetables, fruit kebabs and nuts. Try to avoid pretzels and other salty snacks, which will only make you thirstier on what will likely be a warm day.
Hydration3 of 7
Bring lots of water and make sure your family stops for regular drinks. Find out where the water fountains are and refill your bottles whenever you can.
Sunscreen4 of 7
Slather on that SPF 50 and reapply amid your children's whines during the day. A hat can help, as well—a sun hat might come off too easily on some rides, but a baseball cap will stay put and protect you.
What Stress?5 of 7
You might be ready to blow after standing in line with your kids for twenty minutes, but it turns out that the adrenaline rush you get and the screaming you do while on those scary rides is a great stress reliever. Think about that one guy at work, and scream your head off!
Stay Safe6 of 7
Taking steps to keep your kids safe at the amusement park is good for a parent's mental health. One of the best tips I ever got was to take a photo of my kids before we walk into the park so I have a recent image of what they look like and a record of what they're wearing that day.
You can also write your name and number on a sticker and put it on your child's shirt. It's also helpful to pick a place in the park where you will all meet if someone gets lost. (The elephant ear stand is a solid pick, in my opinion.)