Outdoor Activites The Whole Family Can Enjoy

In today’s uncertain economy families are looking for more free activities to do.  Three outdoor activities have seen an increase in popularity in the last year trail running, hiking and mountain biking.

Trail running or running on an unpaved path or road provides many health benefits including reduce your risk for diabetes, heart attack, lower blood pressure, enhanced bone and joint health, and control weight.  The American Trail Running Association has information on trail in all 50 states and 18 countries.  For more information visit  http://www.trailrunner.com.  Trail running is physically demanding.  To avoid getting lost, plan a route and research the trail before you go out on the trail.  Proper footwear is essential.  Trail running shoes usually are more stable and have more traction than shoes made for running on hard surfaces.  It is important to stay well hydrated: one should take more water on the trail than you think you expect to need.

Mountain biking is a good cardiovascular exercise that also builds lower body strength.  Mountain biking is often done in remote areas.  It is essential that individuals learn how to make minor repairs to their bike like fixing a flat tire.  Always wear a helmet that fits properly sits flat on the head.  Several health plans offer incentives to offset the cost of bike helmets.  Many parks have specially designated trails for mountain biking.  To find a mountain bike trail near you visit http://www.recreation.gov under the Recreation Search Section.

Hiking is another popular outdoor activity.  Since it is low to moderate – intensity hiking can be an activity for the person that is not is good shape.  It offers the same health benefits as trail running but you wont burn as many calories as you would while trail running.  Hiking uphill is can be vigorous exercise especially if the grade of the hill is step.  Wearing a backpack uses even more energy and lets you bring things that could make the trip safer or food.  If you carry an 11 pound backpack you increase your number of calories burned by 6%.  Proper footwear is once agin essential.  Usually when you hike you wear boots that are half a size larger that street shoes.  The extra half-size gives you more room for socks.  Wearing two pairs of socks can help prevent blisters.  Just like any other shoe make sure you break them in before going on a long hike.  Adults should take 2 to 3 quarts of water a day while hiking and more it is hot.  The American Hiking Society has links to federal agencies and state parks with trail for hiking at http://www.americanhiking.org in the hiking resources section.

The above activities are great outdoor workouts.  This just goes to show you don’t need an expensive gym membership to enjoy a workout and be physically active.

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