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Stay in shape with Tons of Fun
State parks challenge offers a way to see the sites while getting fit
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The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is looking to show visitors that the state parks aren't just a place for fun trips; they can also play an important role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

With hundreds of miles of hiking, biking and walking trails, state parks can be a fresh-air alternative to trips to the gym. That's why system administrators have organized the Tons of Fun Fitness Challenge.

"The Tons of Fun program is designed to target, engage and educate Georgians about making better choices about health and fitness. The program is unlike any other because the focus is on making exercise and nutrition fun," said Becky Kelley, state park director.

"Events, activities and dedicated resources will be made available at more than 60 Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites. Exercise doesn't have to be a chore - it's literally a walk in the park."

The goal of the challenge is for participants to lose a combined 1 million pounds.

To measure progress, park staff have created a website dedicated to the challenge. Participants can create a free profile on the site to track calories burned and document weight loss. So far, the site has about 150 registered users, who have participated in about 220 activities and burned about 69,000 calories.

The site offers tips on healthy eating choices, recipes and suggestions for getting active. The site also has a calendar of events with opportunities to get moving at one of the participating state parks.

Some of the upcoming events include a historical rock hike at Tallulah Gorge State Park in Tallulah Falls on Sept. 17 and a mountain biking basics series in October at Smithgall Woods State Park in Helen.