For many military families, summer means a PCS move, complete with schedule disruptions, more fast food than normal, and stress. All of those factors can create an environment that makes it hard to stay committed to a healthy lifestyle.
But there’s good news. Starting a fitness challenge can help you refocus on wellness and balance. Try these summer military fitness challenges to inject activity and fun into your season:
1. National Parks Challenge
No matter where you’re stationed within CONUS, you’re bound to be within spitting distance of one of the almost 2,000 federal recreation areas, national parks, wildlife refuges, beaches, or forests. This summer, discover your local federal park site and explore it through hiking, biking, swimming, boating, or even bird-watching. (And remember, veterans and Gold Star families are eligible for a free lifetime pass; currently serving military members qualify for a free annual pass.)
Bonus: Spending time in nature is good for your mental health!
2. The Murph
Would this even be a military fitness challenge post without mention of The Murph? The Murph is often done over Memorial Day weekend to honor Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient Lt. Michael Murphy and all fallen service members. But you can participate in this meaningful (and tough) workout whenever you’re ready for a challenge.
The Murph consists of:
- a one-mile run
- 100 pull-ups
- 200 push-ups
- 300 squats
- and a one-mile run finisher
It’s a grueling set, especially when wearing a 20-pound weighted vest, which is how Lt. Michael Murphy would complete this workout.
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Not ready for the full Murph? Work towards it through the summer, with the goal of doing the entire thing start-to-finish on Labor Day weekend. While you can prepare on your own, this training plan will get you started.
Is the Murph too easy for you? Try the Murph Plus or add an obstacle course to the traditional Murph.
3. NEX Running Challenge
Did you know that the NEX/MCX routinely offers virtual 5K races at absolutely no cost? You need an online account with the NEX/MCX, which takes just a few minutes to complete. Sign up to walk or run one of their races and you can request a free medal. To find out about the next virtual 5K, follow their Facebook page.
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4. Join a Fitness Group
You don’t have to build a healthy lifestyle alone this summer. (You don’t have to spend a pile of cash, either!) Workout with one of these free-to-join groups:
- Team Red White Blue (RWB) is a nonprofit network of in-person and online chapters designed to connect the military and civilian communities through fitness and social activities. The Team RWB app offers fitness challenges you can take with you no matter where the military sends you. With nearly 200 locations across the nation, you can likely participate in group workouts like runs, rucking, and functional fitness.
- wear blue: run to remember, another military community nonprofit, also offers in-person and online options. The heart of their mission is to “honor the service and sacrifice of the American military through active remembrance.” Wear blue offers a variety of ways to connect with others over your shared fitness interests, from special remembrance events to their Saturday run.
5. The Special Forces Challenge
Push yourself this summer by completing one (or more) of these fitness tests attributed to Special Forces in various countries around the world. From the US’s Delta Force to Israel’s Sayeret Matkal, these tests give a taste of how elite troops are trained and evaluated while offering fitness goal inspiration.
6. The Family Bucket List Challenge
The best military fitness challenges are the ones you dream up! Design your very own family summer fitness challenge. Your family bucket list challenge can create buy-in for the rest of the gang. Plus, it supplies ready-made ideas when the kids inevitably complain of boredom. Don’t stress: the bucket list doesn’t have to be crazy difficult. Instead, focus on functional movement. Include the whole family to cultivate a love for fitness that will last a lifetime.