In addition to observing Mental Health Awareness Month and celebrating Mother’s Day, the month of May is also a time to focus on the tremendous power you have in being fit and healthy. It can relieve stress, boost your mood, alleviate anxiety and depression – and it can also help treat addiction through altering the brain’s dopamine system.

Simply put, the choices you make in living an active life centered around healthful decisions can make you feel better, decrease the possibility of negative health issues such as diabetes and heart disease, and can set you on a path that makes the use of alcohol and other substances far less appealing. Exercise and eating well is the reward, naturally increasing the feel-good chemicals in your system and bringing you enough pleasure without the assistance of anything harmful or damaging to you and your body.

While physical inactivity is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases such as obesity, hypertension, bone, and joint diseases and depression, less than 5% of adults exercise for 30 minutes each day, while 28% of Americans aged six or older are not physically active. In addition, typical American diets exceed the recommended intake levels for sodium, saturated fat, and added sugars, while 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year.

For Global Health & Fitness Month this year, let’s take a look at some of the fun and worthwhile activities that can you do to stay fit around Orange County.

Hiking

There are a number of wonderful hiking trails in the OC area. The San Clemente Beach Trail is a mellow 4.5-mile out-and-back trail with gorgeous vistas and an ocean breeze. For something a bit more moderate, try the Ridgeline Trail to Barbara’s Lake – a 3.12-mile excursion that stops at the largest natural lake in Orange County. You can also check out the lovely Bommer Canyon Trails in Irvine for a pleasant 4.6-mile trip surrounded by wildflowers.

For a longer and more strenuous challenge, check out the 10-mile Dreaded Hill and Red Rock Canyon trail in the Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park, located in Lake Forest between Foothill Ranch and Santiago Canyon. It’s a trip into another time and place, with its oak-lined valleys, spectacular red rock canyons, and endless vistas. There are a number of trails throughout the park tailored to your time and hiking ability.

Parks

There are a number of parks equipped with outdoor fitness areas, like Mission Viejo’s Oso Viejo Park, which has three stations working different parts of the body, and Mandeville Park in Laguna Hills, where you can take advantage of the hilly area for a greater push.

Canyon View Park in Aliso Viejo is true to its name, with its outdoor fitness equipment overlooking an incredible panorama of Aliso Wood Canyon. Ridgecrest Park, also in Aliso Viejo, allows you to hit different stations along the outer edges of the park.

Also, check out the Laguna Niguel Regional Park, which has a fitness course surrounding the area. These are all great alternatives if you want many of the same benefits of working out at a gym, but you get to be outside!

Gym

If you’re more comfortable working out in a gym, there are, of course, many great places to get a good sweat in. The 12 in Costa Mesa, Iron Bodies in Santa Ana, and Jungle Fitness in Irvine are all highly recommended by their patrons.

If you’re looking for a bit more of a rugged experience, try out Costa Mesa’s Rockreation Climbing Gym, which is dedicated to growing the sport of rock climbing for people of all ages and at all levels of difficulty. It’s equipped with cross-training gear and offers a variety of options in fitness and yoga while allowing you to train in a safe setting.

Surfing

You can find world-class surf at Trestles, at the southern tip of Orange County, where the pros go. For something a bit more friendly to surfers of all levels, check out T-Street Beach, just south of the San Clemente Pier. However, be aware that only swimming is allowed between 9 am and 6 pm in the summer, so arrive early if you want to hit the board.

For a more beginner-friendly experience, Doheny Beach in Dana Point is great for those looking for calmer waves and longboarding. The Wedge is a fun spot for bodyboarding and bodysurfing during the summer months, while Huntington Beach Pier hosts the U.S. Open of Surfing every year.

If you’re looking for lessons, check out the California Surf Experience in Laguna Beach to help you get going!

Biking

There are a number of family-friendly bike trails, like the Aliso Creek Riding Trail, which runs 18 miles Laguna Niguel to Whiting Ranch and is nice and shady for those hot summer days. The Santa Ana River Trail stretches from Huntington Beach to Weir Canyon Road, is away from the roads, and features nature centers that are great places to bird watch.

You can rent a bike at Irvine Regional Park in Orange for a nice day trip along the Irvine Park Trail along Santiago Creek. Make sure to bring water! There’s a park entry fee of $5 on weekends and $3 on weekdays.  

Yoga

There is nothing like a good stretch to set your mood right, and establishments like Ra Yoga in Costa Mesa and Yoga Squared in Tustin offer welcoming spaces full of positivity to help both beginners and seasoned yogis alike. Triad Yoga and Pilates in Newport Beach is highly recommended for its authenticity and genuine nature, while Be The Change Yoga fuses the mind, body, and spirit in transformative ways that can shape your life outside of the studio.

Eating

It’s fun to explore healthy eats around Orange County – check out the build-your-own-bowl options at CAVA in Irvine, Mission Viejo, and Costa Mesa, or the blackened fish tacos at Green Tomato Grill in Orange. Dive into the antioxidants of an acai bowl at Banzai Bowls in Laguna and head down to the beach to soak up the rays. Pressed Juicery offers up nutrient-packed cold-pressed juices full of mineral-rich produce and can be found in Newport Beach, Laguna Niguel, Tustin, and Irvine.

Even if you think it’s not your thing, explore the many vegan options around – you may be pleasantly surprised! Mead’s Green Door Cafe in Orange aims to “raise the vibration of all who enter” with their lovely spread of plant-based lunch options as well as their airy space that is literally a canvas for artistic creation.

For some fresh vegan takes on some of your favorite traditional Vietnamese dishes, check out the unfussy Hoa Sen in Garden Grove. Have fun exploring!

Adventure Therapy

Escaping to nature and returning as a more complete and healed person is the basis for our Adventure Therapy, which tests an individual through various outdoor activities as a fun and worthwhile way to travel on the road to recovery. We’re blessed with breathing in the air of one of the most geographically spectacular places – Southern California – and there is ample opportunity to explore the endless coastlines through beach trips, paddle boarding, kayaking, and other activities that bring you face to face with your world.

Farmers Markets

Farmers markets are a fascinating way to get in touch with healthful food as well as the people who grow it, giving you the opportunity to buy fresh, high-quality California-grown produce straight from the farmers. These markets are family-friendly community events that bring various craft vendors and musicians to the party as well.

The Huntington Beach Farmers Market is open Monday to Friday from 8 am to 8 pm as well as Saturday and Sunday from 8 am to 7 pm. The Original Manassero Farms Market in Irvine is open Monday to Sunday from 8 am to 5 pm.

Here’s a day-by-day list of markets you can visit in OC:

Wednesday

Tustin Certified Farmers Market – 9 am to 1 pm

245 El Camino Real, Tustin, CA 92780

Thursday

Costa Mesa Certified Farmers Market – 9 am to 1 pm

88 Fair Dr

Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Downtown Anaheim Farmers Market and Craft Fair  – 11 am to 4 pm

201 W Center Street Promenade, Anaheim, CA 92805

Fullerton Market – 4 pm to 8:30 pm

121 E Wilshire Ave

Fullerton, CA 92832

Friday

Laguna Hills Farmers Market – 9 am to 1 pm

24155 Laguna Hills Mall

Laguna Hills, CA 92637

Orange Home Grown Farmers & Artisans Market – 9 am to 1 pm

303 W Palm Ave

Orange, CA 92866

Saturday

The Irvine Farmers Market – 8 am to noon

5001 Newport Coast Dr.

Irvine, CA 92612

Laguna Beach Farmers Market – 8 am to noon

505 Forest Ave

Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Dana Point Farmers Market – 9 am to 1 pm

Pacific Coast Hwy & La Plz

Dana Point, CA 92629

Corona Del Mar Certified Farmers Market – 9 am to 1 pm

Pch And Marguerite Ave

Corona del Mar, CA 92625

Buena Park Farmers Market – 9 am to 2 pm

La Palma Avenue and Stanton Avenue

8000-8092 La Palma Ave, Buena Park CA 90620

Sunday

Laguna Niguel Farmers Market – Sunday 8 am to noon

Plaza De La Paz Shopping Ctr

Laguna Niguel, CA 92607

Newport Beach Certified Farmers Market – Sunday 9 am to 1 pm

102 Mcfadden Pl

Newport Beach, CA 92663

Great Park Farmers Market – Sunday 10 am to 2 pm

6950 Marine Way

Irvine, CA 92618

Regular physical activity is known to prevent diseases, prolong your life, and make you a happier and more whole person. How active you are is directly connected to how healthy you are, and for many who are in recovery from alcohol or other substance use disorders, the right combination of a fitness regimen and a more healthful diet can be the push you need to accomplish your goals in a more positive direction.

At Windward Way, we’re here to help retrain your brain through filling it up with more of that feel-good dopamine without the use of substances. Nature is calling you to be more healthy and fit this month! Contact us today and be ready to plug into the vibrant chorus of activities of your choosing. Give us a ring at (855) 491-7694.