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Atlanta Weekend Warrior Safety Tips
+ 19 Amazing Outdoor Activities

Resources in the age of COVID-19
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By Farhan Malik, MD
Atlanta Innovative Medicine

Ever since the COVID pandemic began, fitness options for Atlanta metro residents have changed, just as they have for people worldwide. Fitness clubs and gyms were closed for a period of time, and a lot of group recreational activities have been put on hold.

In addition, most individuals are minimizing social get-togethers and dining out activities. All of this together combines for WAY too much time being spent in the house! How to rectify cabin fever, maintain our sanity, and stay healthy?

Incorporating outdoor socially distanced activities such as walking, hiking, jogging, paddleboards, and biking is an excellent way to get one’s blood flowing and stay fit. And it’s vital for the mental and physical health of our kids, too! With many of us being new to these adventurous activities, we don’t always appreciate how challenging they can be on our bodies.

Injuries are common if proper precautions aren’t taken before, during, and after the activity. So what are the best ways to prevent injuries to one’s joints, tendons, and ligaments with outdoor exercising?

A pre-workout stretching routine only takes five to 10 minutes total. Here are some healthy warm-up routine tips and injury prevention thoughts prior to embarking:

1. Dynamic Stretching—these stretches help prevent injury to one’s muscles by improving range of motion and flexibility. Most of the focus should be placed on the lower extremities (unless you’re rock climbing), and dynamic stretches involve moving through the stretch instead of statically holding it. Here are 5 of the best dynamic stretches.

  • Alternating Knee Lifts
  • Squat to hip flexor
  • Alternating high kicks
  • Torso Twist
  • Alternating quad stretch

 

2. Warm-Up Exercises—while dynamic stretches are fantastic for injury prevention, large muscle activation is also helpful for preventing injury as well. The following 5 warm-up exercises will make one’s fitness activity easier.

  • Windmill lateral lunges
  • Squat into calf raise stretch
  • Fire feet (running in place)
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Forward split lunges

These warm-up exercises should be done 10-20 at a time, with progressive increases in the range of motion.

 

 

3. Proper Footwear—just as a carpenter needs to use the right tool for the job at hand, individuals need to use the right shoe for the outdoor activity. This should include durability, proper ankle support and enough give in the heel for the activity. Obviously hiking boots would not be appropriate for trail running and vice versa. The correct shoes will go a long way towards preventing injury from a fall, blisters, or a twisting accident. Over the past few years, shoes for outdoor activities have actually become much more specialized. There are trail running shoes, water sport shoes, mid or high support hiking boots, sports sandals, and many styles of running shoes. Make sure not only that the footwear fits well, but also don’t forget to break it in prior to a long outdoor activity.

 

4. Be Realistic—Outdoor fitness activities are exhilarating and a fantastic way to get fit. However, people need to be realistic about how much to accomplish early on. For example, signing up for a 50-mile bike ride without having ridden a bike in years is a recipe for an injury. Same with going on a full day hike after having been in hibernation for months! A better idea is to start with a moderate activity that builds up to the more strenuous, which will condition one’s soft tissues for the strain.

 

5. Hydrate and Eat—A lot of time, those who participate in outdoor activities forget to plan for proper eating and drinking. Bringing enough water for the duration is key and drinking before severe thirst sets in will prevent cramping and overheating. For snacks, complex carbohydrates are best to provide the sustained fuel reserves needed to finish strong.

 

6. Static Stretching—after an outdoor activity, it’s a great idea to incorporate static stretching. This will minimize the resulting soreness and pain by allowing muscles to loosen up while increasing flexibility and range of motion. This will increase blood flow too to help muscles recover more quickly. Here are five top static stretching exercises to help prevent soreness and help with recovery.

  • Cobra pose
  • Seated butterfly stretch
  • Head to knee forward bend
  • Overhead triceps stretch
  • Biceps stretch behind the back.

Now that we’ve covered all the necessary warm-ups and stretches, we can move on to the fun part. OUTDOOR DESTINATIONS! We’ve created our top-19 list for your viewing pleasure. Without further adieu, let’s dive in.

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Hiking

Stone Mountain Park
Location: Stone Mountain, GA

Stone Mountain Park features 15 miles of hiking and walking trails with varying degrees of difficulty. Enjoy the 5-mile trail around the base, the 1-mile trail to the summit, and more. Enjoy historical sites, recreation golf, or a ride to the summit!

Phone: 800-401-2407
Cost: Cost varies depending on daily or annual visits.

Arabia Mountain
Location: Hiawassee, GA

Enjoy over 30 miles of hiking, walking, and running trails! This beautiful destination has fields of exposed granite and is a great place to visit. Most popular? Hiking to the top! This is a kid-friendly hiking destination.

Contact: https://www.atlantatrails.com/contact/
Cost: Free!

Panola Mountain State Park
Location: Stockbridge, GA

Only 15 minutes from Atlanta is a beautiful sanctuary created for all ages. From picnics to playgrounds, this park is truly a paradise. It offers archery, geocaching, orienteering, and dog walking. There are also hiking and running trails. Panola has been officially declared a National Natural Landmark.

Phone: 770-389-7801
Cost: Varies based on activities

Waterfalls

Cascade Springs
Location: Atlanta, GA

Cascade Springs is truly an interesting place to visit. Surrounded by the urban busyness, but completely at peace with itself. Enjoy this beautiful waterfall and historic springhouse destination. Mounded earthworks from the Civil War can be found here. Wildlife abounds and you can escape the city life for a few hours here!

Contact: https://www.atlantatrails.com/contact/
Cost: Free!

Vickery Creek Trail at Roswell Mill
Location: Roswell, GA

Historic mills, covered bridge, majestic waterfalls… Should we go on? This is truly a gem to visit. You can hike or use the paths as running trails. It goes without saying that you should take care while walking on rocks as they may be slippery. This is a 5-mile exploration that is definitely worth it. Be one with nature in the forest and truly disconnect. You will want to take advantage of this awesome destination!

Contact: https://www.atlantatrails.com/contact/
Cost: $5 Day Pass

Amicalola Falls Trail
Location: Near Ellijay, GA

Hike to the top of this natural wonder (the tallest waterfall in GA) and catch breathtaking scenery. You can even see some of the Appalachian Approach Trail and East Ridge Trail. This trail is a bit more on the difficult side, you may not want to take the kids for the first go, but it is definitely worth a visit. This is a pretty popular trail, so don’t expect to have it all to yourself!

Contact: https://www.atlantatrails.com/contact/
Cost: $5 Day Pass

TRAIL: Jog, walk, bike

Beltline
Location: Atlanta, GA

The Beltline has SO much to offer. From bus rides to bike rides, to arboretum walking tours, you will not be bored. There are also FREE fitness classes, art to be admired, and races to run! Certain parts of the Beltline do cost money, due to the growing demand, but your money goes to great causes! You can read more on that here!

Contact: https://beltline.org/contact/
Cost: Varies based on activity

Piedmont Park
Location: Atlanta, GA

It doesn’t matter what your goal is. Get in shape, stay in shape, or stress release, Piedmont Park will satisfy all your needs. With the motto ‘Healthy Minds, Healthy Communities,’ they strive to provide activities that promote a healthier community. This park is kid-friendly and a great day away for the family!

Phone: 404-875-7275
Cost: Varies based on classes

Path 400
Location: Atlanta, GA

PATH400 is part of the ongoing project to add more parks and trails to Georgia. It runs along the spine of GA 400 and, once complete, will provide a 5.2 mile greenway through the heart of Buckhead, connecting neighborhoods, office and retail locations with a path for bicyclists and pedestrians. This is still under construction in some areas, so you may find there are certain parts of the trail not open to the public.

Phone: 404-842-2680
Cost: Free!

Farmers Market

Grant Park Farmers Market
Location: Atlanta, GA

The Grant Park Farmers Market is truly a delight to behold. Watch celebrity chef demonstrations and fill your fridge all in one go. You can get the best locally-grown veggies, meats, breads, and artisanal foods available in Atlanta! With plenty of seating and picnic areas, there’s a space for everyone to relax and enjoy a wonderful morning of community and food.

Phone: 404-919-3619
Cost: Only what you buy!

Decatur Farmers Market
Location: Decatur, GA

The Decatur Farmers Markets boast proud residents and neighbors who are all about keeping it “Indie-Catur.” This market is the cornerstone of the community. There is plenty of space at this market for picnics and taking the family! There are currently COVID restrictions, so please check those out prior to going! You will not want to miss this market experience.

Phone: 404-919-3619
Cost: Only what you buy!

Oakhurst Farmers Market
Location: Oakhurst, GA

Not only do you get out of the house for a bit to the grocery store, but it’s ALSO enjoyable! This farmers market boasts the freshest of produce, meats, treats, and so much more. You can also watch live music and chefs create masterpieces. There may even be a seasonal beer collaboration… Keep up to date by checking out their website!

Phone: 404-919-3619
Cost: Only what you buy!

Sports Leagues

Kickball
Location: Atlanta, GA

Who doesn’t love kickball? There are multiple leagues you can join depending on location. Nervous about joining? No worries! This is to try something new, fun, and most importantly? To be social! Whether it’s been YEARS since you’ve played or you’ve never played, there is a spot for everyone. Come have fun and join a team!

Phone: 678-869-4690
Cost: Varies, but the registration fee for individuals is $60

Pickup Ultimate Frisbee
Location: Atlanta, GA

This one is seriously SO cool. You can find pickup games in your area and then… Go join them! Each destination has some established times, so start saving that slot on your calendar and start attending weekly ultimate frisbee games. Not only is this a workout, but it’s a great way to make new friends and liven up the social calendar.

Cost: Free!

Flag Football
Location: Atlanta, GA

Atlanta Flag Football offers some of the most competitive Flag Football in the southeast. You can get involved as a team or go solo. This is a great way to make new friends and get some physical activity in, not to mention it’s fun. This one can get pretty intense, but if you’ve got that competitive edge, you’re going to love this one!

Phone: 678-799-0159
Cost: $65/Individual or $550/team

Obstacle Courses

Treetop Quest
Location: Gwinnett, GA and Dunwoody, GA

Treetop Quest parks are truly a delight to be had by all. Reach new heights, connect with the environment and explore with a unique community of people. From treasure hunts to team building exercises, there is something for everyone here. Part of a company that you think would benefit from this awesome destination? They have corporate team building sessions as well!

Phone: 770-365-0356 (Dunwoody), 404-277-6113 (Gwinnett)
Cost: Varies

Sojourn Adventures
Location: Johns Creek, GA

Could this be an adventure of a lifetime? Guess you will have to visit and find out. This destination is great for parties, teams, and schools to grow together and have a blast! The rope courses are amazing and, when paired with trained facilitators, you will find that they forge strong friendships, bonds, and reveal deep personal values. Definitely worth checking out!

Phone: 678-405-2106
Cost: Varies based on group

Kayaking, canoeing, & paddle Board

Shoot the Hooch
Location: Atlanta, GA

Jump in a tube or kayak and take a fun and relaxing trip down the Chattahoochee River. Currently, tubes and kayaks can be rented from Powers Island. This destination is fun for the entire family! Heat getting to ya? Jump in a kayak and get going! Go as fast, or as slow, as you’d like! Due to COVID, only single kayaks and tubes are available.

Phone: 770-650-1008
Cost: Varies based on group

Lake Allatoona
Location: Canton, GA

Enjoy kayaking and paddleboarding on this beautiful destination. The owners have been in the business for a long time and are committed to providing you with the best experience possible. Explore the lake and the many nooks and crannies it offers. You can also take advantage of the restaurants and other activities in the area.

Phone: 678-672-9917
Cost: Varies based on group

Atlanta Row
Location: Atlanta, GA

The Atlanta Rowing Club is a non-profit organization formed and maintained to promote the sport of rowing. Since then, the club has welcomed athletes from a diversity of backgrounds and a variety of interests. From learning to row to recreational rowing to competitive rowing, you will find there is something for everyone with Atlanta Row. They’re doing some pretty cool things for the community. Check out their website to find out more!

Phone: 678-885-7697
Cost: Varies based on activity

Spring is just around the corner, and the benefit (and need!) to spend time outdoors has never been more profound and important. Grab your water bottle, partner, kids … whatever you have to grab. Get out into the beautiful outdoors and safely move your body! And while you are at it, please post your adventures and tag AIM on Facebook and Instagram.

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