June 24, 2014
Erick Gelbke curls around the shore at Lacamas Lake. The Sweetwood Paddleboard guide, from Whitefish, Mont., loves tooling around the water with beginners and experienced riders. "I always enjoy the stoke people have," Gelbke said.

Escape with paddleboarding

Terry Click escapes life's hustle and bustle with a board and a paddle. "There is great calmness as I am gliding across the water," he said. "I usually am mesmerized by the water peeling off the nose of the board, how quiet it is, how elegant. I appreciate all the nature around me and feel at one with it."

June 24, 2014
Certified personal trainer Karen Bell works with a client at her Washougal studio. She suggests those who want to lose weight and keep it off commit to a regular exercise and eating plan that they can stick with long term.

A commitment to success

Every day, countless people look in the mirror and declare, "no more." They make a commitment to lose weight. For weeks, or even months, a rigorous diet and exercise regimen is followed. They lose weight. Friends marvel at their commitment.

June 24, 2014
Guy LaRue builds strength and flexibility with physical therapist Steve McCarthy at Washougal Sport & Spine. LaRue broke his back in a quad riding accident in 2010. McCarthy is helping him make a full recovery.

Standing tall through physical therapy

Guy LaRue stands tall today, thankful for the ability to move on his own two feet. The Washougal football player was riding a quad in the sand when he rolled it and broke his back at the age of 14. He had four vertebrates fused, and two rods and eight screws placed into his spine.

June 24, 2014
Stephens' metabolic conditioning class often includes a circuit training workout, which incorporates the use of resistance bands, punching bag, balance balls, free weights and good old fashioned body weight resistance. Krissy Barlow (left) said her participation in the class has helped to improve her physical health and appearance. "So far I've lost 3 inches in my waist, and I'm much more toned," she said.

Boot camp challenge

Active and fit most of her life, after the birth of her second child Anna Stephens had some trouble getting back into the swing of things. "I just couldn't lose the weight," she said.

June 24, 2014
Schools use several methods to encourage students to exercise. Here, children at Grass Valley Elementary participate in a game during field day.

Understanding wellness

Childhood obesity has reached epidemic levels in Washington and throughout the United States. Overweight children are at higher risk for lifelong physical and emotional health problems, among other issues.

June 24, 2014
Dogs and their owners enjoy the open spaces of the Donald and Angeline Stevenson Off Leash Area, at 32nd and Addy streets in Washougal. The park includes a separate area for smaller dogs.

Constant companions

There are benefits for dogs and their owners to spend time running or walking. Justin Anderson, of Washougal, said his 4-month-old goldendoodle, Kirby behaves better with a walk.

June 24, 2014
Residents of Columbia Ridge Senior Living, in Washougal, enjoy a game of beanbag baseball. Other activities include exercise classes, walking clubs, ice cream socials, Bible studies, arts and crafts, gardening and music. There are trivia games, reading groups and outings to the beach, local restaurants, museums, special events and concerts. "Hopefully we are giving our residents the chance to enjoy each day to its fullest potential," said Columbia Ridge Activity Director Michelle Kendoll.

Improving the latter years of life

Maggie Lou Heltzel enjoys challenges, most any games and mingling with people. She is among the participants in beanbag baseball at Columbia Ridge Senior Living, in Washougal. Heltzel, 86, also enjoys playing bingo and exercise "sometimes."

June 24, 2014
Students at Washougal High School participate in Challenge Day, which is supported by the Unite! Washougal Community Coalition. "We have a great community here," said Margaret McCarthy, coalition director. "We have a lot of amazing youth that are doing fantastic things. We need to celebrate that and encourage that and support that. It is empowering for them to know that people care about what they do."

Uniting for Prevention

To "unite" is defined as joining, combining or incorporating to form a single unit. There is a reason this descriptive term is included in the name of the organization that is made up of a diverse group of members who work together to "support youth, encourage families, enrich community and guide healthy choices."

June 24, 2014
The Bridge of the Gods Half Marathon and 10K races begin with a breathtaking sprint across the Columbia River from Washington into Oregon. The bridge stretches 1,858 feet across and stands 140 above the river. The grated road allows runners and walkers to see the rushing water below their feet.

Spanning the Columbia River on foot

An iconic landmark in the Columbia River Gorge is the centerpiece for the Bridge of the Gods Half Marathon and 10K Sunday, Aug. 10. Up to 1,000 runners and walkers will cross the 1,858-foot steel masterpiece from Washington into Oregon and work their way to the finish line at Thunder Island, in Cascade Locks. The grated road along the bridge allows participants to see the Columbia River flowing beneath their feet.