4 Must-Try Outdoor Activities

outdoor fitnessExercise can be a dirty word, so we prefer to talk about being active. When you’re active, you’re doing things you enjoy, so it doesn’t feel like a chore. During the summer, you have a wide range of outdoor options to have fun, keep your weight down, elevate your mood, and get some fresh air. We’ve discovered a few outdoor activities you might like to try . . .


A highly enjoyable water sport, kayaking is similar to canoeing, but a kayak typically has a closed deck. The kayaker sits with legs in front and uses a double-bladed paddle. Any body of water, from a river to an ocean, is suitable for kayaking. If you like excitement, kayaking down swift-moving rivers, waterfalls, and rapids—also known as whitewater kayaking—is for you.

Kayaking works most of the muscles of the body, especially the torso and arms. You can certainly purchase everything you need to kayak, but kayaking companies will also outfit you on a rental basis.


Another water sport, surfing has always been synonymous with ocean waves, but it can be done anywhere waves occur, such as lakes or rivers. The surfer rides a surfboard, a 5-foot or longer flat platform, and maneuvers the board toward a wave hoping it will carry him or her forward, called catching the wave. Once the surfer has caught the wave, he or she stands up on the board to ride the wave. Surfing takes patience and practice.

Surfing works all the major muscle groups, especially the muscles of your upper body while catching the wave, and the muscles of your core, legs, and buttocks while riding the wave. The only equipment you need is a surfboard, which may be purchased or rented.


Similar to surfing, paddleboarders ride a board, but instead of catching waves far from shore, the rider stays nearer to shore, sits or kneels on the board, and uses a swimming motion or an oar to move the board. Variations including paddle surfing and doing yoga on the paddleboard make this sport fun and accessible for almost anyone.

Like kayaking and surfing, paddleboarding is a full-body workout and is an excellent cardiovascular activity. Paddleboards tend to be longer than most surfboards, up to 15 feet or more, and can be purchased or rented.


For those who prefer dry land or exploring, hiking offers a fun way to stay active and see the outdoors. Most serious hikers are environmentally conscious, and they walk trails in mountainous or hilly areas. Hikers receive a double benefit: exhilarating activity and incredible views. Many people get away from the hustle and bustle of their lives by hiking, and they enjoy the peace of being one with nature.

Hiking works most major muscle groups, and the higher hikers climb, the better workout they get. Equipment is simple: good hiking boots, thick socks, protective clothing, and a backpack stocked with food, water, a compass, and a map of the area. If the hike is going to be longer than a few hours or in areas without trails, the hikers should have other essentials such as a knife, fire starter, flashlight, and GPS device.

Have you tried any of these activities, and did you enjoy them? Any tips for the rest of us?

Exercising as Fun Rather Than Drudgery

We all know exercise is a vital part of creating a healthy life, but often, we see exercise as another chore we need to finish. Following are some ideas to help you play and have fun with exercising instead of putting it off or dreading it. No matter which exercise you choose, set realistic goals for yourself and focus on fun.

exercisePlay. Do what you enjoy.

If you pick an activity you like, you’ll look forward to doing it regularly, and you’ll be more likely to stick with it long term. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as you’re moving, so be creative. Is there a sport you’ve always wanted to try, or perhaps a form of dancing you enjoy? Did you love to roller skate as a kid? There’s no reason you can’t learn a new sport, dance, or roller skate now.

If you prefer being indoors, you might like weight lifting, yoga, swimming, or Zumba dance. If you’re an outdoors person, try rock climbing, skiing, bicycling, or simply walking. The more you love what you’re doing, the more often you’ll do it, and the more benefits you’ll reap from it.

Make a fun date with yourself.

Decide which time of day you would most enjoy moving, and schedule it in writing. Be realistic—if you’re not a morning person, don’t plan a 6 a.m. workout. Would you enjoy going to a yoga class after work, or taking the dog for a walk after dinner? Decide which days and times suit you best, and start there.

Think of this time as “I get to . . .” instead of “I have to . . .” because your attitude before you exercise will dictate your frame of mind while you’re doing it.

Take it easy at first, and then challenge yourself to do just a little more.

Don’t expect miracles the first day or the first week. Again, be realistic with yourself. Start slowly, and do what you can. If five minutes is your limit today, great—you might be able to go just a little longer tomorrow and do 5 ½ or 6 minutes. By starting slowly, you’ll have a sense of accomplishment without hurting yourself by doing too much, too soon.

Find an exercise buddy.

If you have a friend who makes you laugh or is fun to be with, maybe he or she would like to exercise with you. If you’re going for a walk, take the dog, or walk with your spouse or children. Exercise time can double as family time, and it’s easier to stay motivated when you have other people to exercise with.

Variety is the spice of life.

Nowhere does that saying apply more than to exercise. Varying your workout with new activities will not only keep you motivated, but changing your routine also works different parts of your body. Try something new once a month, and have different activities for the seasons.

What do you do to keep exercise fresh and fun?