Summer in the city: Exploring Columbus for an active life

By Dana Thornbury DLA Land and Maritime Public Affairs

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The arrival of summer sparks a passion with the outdoors, especially after the elongated winter that overstayed its welcome this year. Getting out and enjoying the weather couldn’t be easier.

 

Family Hike
Family Hike
Families explore one of the 353 Central Ohio parks that are perfect for walking, running, cycling and just taking in the great outdoors.
Photo By: Dana Thornbury
VIRIN: 170909-D-HV615-001
Whether it’s a bike ride to the park for a picnic or a simple stroll at dusk, the warm weather and blooming foliage trigger a desire to explore. And the city of Columbus has a vast amount of opportunities to discover something new while leading a healthy lifestyle; the best part is it can be enjoyed with family and friends.

 

If you haven’t already signed up to participate in the Fitness and Wellness Program offered at DLA Land and Maritime, now’s the time. The season brings more activities and options for associates to enjoy the three hours a week provided during their program time at the office − from walking Mission Park to lap swimming at the pool. Although, a healthy lifestyle extends beyond the office and into daily life.

 

Leading an active lifestyle in Columbus doesn’t have to be hard work, in fact it’s the opposite. With bike paths and parklands to shopping and entertainment, being active will be a side effect of the fun to be had.

 

Here’s a look at how to get active around Columbus to include activities and events that are affordable or better yet, free.

 

Parks

 

Columbus has an abundance of Central Ohio parks to explore − 353 to be exact, with 8,221 acres of parkland and 120 miles of regional trails. Parks are perfect for walking, running, cycling and just taking in the great outdoors.

 

The parks truly have something for everyone to enjoy no matter the passion, said Morale, Welfare and Recreation Aquatics Manager, and prior Outdoor Recreation Manager, Dylan Young.

 

Kayak
Outdoor Rental Center
The MWR Rental Center on the Defense Supply Center Columbus has everythin you need to experience life outdoors, plan the perfect party or find an adventure. Their inventory of rental items for camping, boating, fishing, hiking, parties & picnics, landscaping and more can be located at https://www.defensemwr.com/columbus/programs-services/rental-center.
Photo By: Paul Batory
VIRIN: 111209-D-D0441-001
Metro Park activities include: archery, backpacking, biking, boating, canoeing and kayaking, cross-country skiing, camps, disc golf, fishing, golfing, horseback riding, play areas, nature centers and preserves, obstacle courses, and much more. Note that you don’t have to own outdoor gear to have fun in the park, MWR Outdoor Recreation offers everything needed to experience life outdoors.

 

Young’s favorite park to relax and take in the beauty of nature is the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.  He said there’s always something to do from the art exhibits and events to experiencing nature in full bloom.

In addition to the parks, Columbus offers even more ways to discover nature and appreciate the outdoors with 14 nature preserves, five dog parks, a skate park and multiple community centers, athletic complexes, pools and golf courses.  

Aquatics

Pools are on the top of the destination list during a scorching hot summer day. One can take a refreshing splash in the MWR pool or take a dip into one of the eight Columbus outdoor pools.

 

DSCC Pool
DSCC Pool
The Defense Supply Center Columbus swimming pool has four lanes, 100 feet in length with a diving board and handicapped accessibility. New features for 2018 include snack bar, group and private swim lessons, Aqua Fitness, and themed special events.
Photo By: Charles Morris
VIRIN: 030816-D-LC637-001
Associates may participate in lap swimming and Aqua Fitness on the installation as part of the fitness and wellness programs.

 

There are benefits for all, Young said, swimming is a full-body, low impact workout that is good for the joints. This makes it great for all ages and abilities.

 

Another great way to beat the heat is to make a splash at Columbus’ premier 22-acre outdoor waterpark. In addition to attractions such as slippery slides, wave pools and lazy rivers, Zoombezi Bay admission also includes entry to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium for the day. To make it even more affordable, the park offers many community days throughout the season that offer discounts to the Armed Forces or allow canned goods to be exchanged for admission. For associates who cannot wait for the gate offerings, the MWR Information, Tickets and Registration Office inside Building 20 sells discounted tickets during the summer to the waterpark and other local events and destinations.   

Events

From local festivals to theater and concerts, there’s something for everyone in Columbus.

 

Festivals are a great way to experience cultural diversity in a fun and active environment, Michiel DeVito, MWR’s Family Services program manager said.

 

Fun Fest
Fun Fest
Columbus offers many festivals throughout the year. Festivals provide a way for the local community to engage with its members and share cultural diversity in a fun and active environment.
Photo By: Charles Morris
VIRIN: 120810-D-LC637-001
“Getting out and walking around even leisurely is beneficial to an active lifestyle,” Young said. For instance, a 155-pound person walking at two mph can burn approximately 170 calories. And what’s more fun than taking a relaxingstroll during an outdoor event or summer festival?

 

This year’s summer festivals include annual favorites such as Rhythm on the River, Red, White & Boom, and Jazz and Rib Fest and all offer opportunities to walk, dance, explore and enjoy.

 

For theater lovers, Schiller Park is a perfect spot to enjoy a nice stroll, picnic and show. Right in the heart of historic German Village, performances are enjoyed under the starry night. The production’s priority is to keep quality outdoor theater alive for the community. As a result, admission is “pay what you will.”

The Ohio State Fair is also a summertime favorite in central Ohio with rides, exhibitions, musical performances and more. Associates can also save a few dollars and purchase discount tickets at the MWR ITR office. 

Golfing

Golf
Golf
Eagle Eye Golf Course, located on the Defense Supply Center Columbus, is a 9-hole course with a complete practice facility, two practice greens and a practice bunker open year-round.
Photo By: Charles Morris
VIRIN: 160810-D-LC637-002
During the summer, there isn’t a shortage of opportunities to get outside and enjoy the outdoors while networking. Golfing is a great way to have fun outside in a social environment.  “Playing golf can improve wellness,” MWR Marketing Manager Jennifer Russell said. “It’s a practice in mindfulness. It’s an opportunity to forge social connections with friends, family and co-workers, and particularly with a walking round. It’s an outdoor activity that improves physical health.”

 

Golfers can play on the installation at Eagle Eye Golf Course or at one of the six Columbus Municipal Golf Courses. Eagle Eye also offers clinics for golfers of all ages and stages in the game.

Sports Leagues

Softball
Softball
Intramural leagues are a great way to get active while having fun. MWR and the City of Columbus offers various leagues throughout the year.
Photo By: Paul Batory
VIRIN: 151209-D-D0441-001
Another way to have fun and get active in a social environment is to join a sports league. MWR’s Fitness Center offers associates various intramural leagues from softball to sand volleyball. Columbus Recreation and Parks Department also offers a variety of leagues and offerings for youth and adults.

Activities & Programs

Maybe you’re looking for an organized program but don’t want to be committed long-term.  Here are some activities that can be done as an individual or with a group without making a re-occurring calendar date.

 

Geocaching, a GPS-based scavenger hunt, and augmented reality games such as Pokemon Go encourage exploration through walking and are available throughout the city and its parks.

 

Additionally, the city has many walking and running events that allow you to participate as little or as often as you like.

 

2017 Powder Blast 5K at DSCC
2017 Powder Blast 5K
Department of Defense service members, civilians and contractors marked the end of summer in colorful fashion at the annual Powder Blast 5K at Defense Supply Center Columbus. Runners sprinted through colorful plumes of non-toxic dust during the course before finishing in a final cloud of multi-hued powder. The installation’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation office organized the Sept. 14 event and distributed powder for spectators along the route to throw at the runners.
Photo By: Charles Morris
VIRIN: 170914-D-LC637-001
The MWR Fitness Center offers walking clubs, a couch-to-5k program and a series of 5k walk or run events throughout the year on post that qualify for the fitness and wellness program.

 

The city offers free neighborhood walking clubs including a program called “Walk with a Doc” that allows participants to learn about various health topics from a local doctor during the suburban hike.

Additional options include walking around outdoor shopping centers such as Easton Town Center that often have additional programs available from artist displays, street fairs and movie nights or taking a trip to the Olentangy Indian Caverns.

 

Whatever you do to be active this summer, remember to never underestimate the little things in life as they provide a great way to burn calories while making memories such as playing catch with a kid or kicking a soccer ball around to catching lightning bugs or playing tag. 

 

Young left these parting words, “No matter what’s going on in life, I encourage you to get out there and try new things; get active.  There’s something for everybody, you just have to discover it.”