Ask any health expert and they will tell you that exercise is a cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, getting enough physical activity could prevent one in 10 premature deaths. It can also reduce stress levels, improve sleep and leave us feeling happy.
But when it comes to being more active, many of us don’t know where to start. While some people love lifting weights at the gym and training to run marathons, these strenuous activities aren’t for everyone. In fact, just spending time outdoors has been shown to improve overall health.
Below you’ll find examples of leisure activities and fun things to do outside that will inspire you to be more active.
These recreational activities do not require you to purchase or rent equipment, or pay fees.
A hiking trip doesn’t have to involve a 10-mile trek up a steep mountain. The United States features thousands of acres of parkland traversed by paths that cater to all difficulty levels. To find hiking trails near you, try AllTrails.com, where you can search for paths based on location, difficulty level and length. Check out our hiking packing list to make sure you have everything you need to tackle the trail.
If you think you won’t break a sweat practicing yoga, think again. This practice is ideal if you’re looking to increase your flexibility, relieve soreness and improve your mood. The best part: You don’t need to join an expensive yoga studio to practice. You can find instructional videos for all skill levels for free on YouTube.
Whether you have access to a swimming pool or live near a lake, swimming is a great way to stay fit (and stay cool). Swimming elevates your heart rate and helps tone your muscles the same way running does, but without the stress on your joints. If you don’t feel comfortable swimming laps, you can also try water aerobics, or simply treading water.
Yes, you will need to purchase a Frisbee if you don’t already have one. But after that initial expense, you will have a wide variety of recreational activities to choose from. Play a simple game of catch with someone else, or get a group together for a raucous game of Disc Golf or Ultimate Frisbee.
Studies show that gardening can greatly reduce stress levels. What’s more, you can save money at the grocery store by growing your own herbs and vegetables. If you don’t have your own space to garden at home, see if your home town has a community garden. You can also spruce up a small space with window flower boxes.
These recreational activities require special equipment, or you may need to pay a fee or purchase a ticket.
When the weather turns cold, take to the slopes. Both activities provide the opportunity to raise your heart rate and exercise your muscles while providing an unforgettable adrenaline rush. Find the right ski resort for you on our list of the best ski resorts in the USA. If you don’t have your own equipment, you can rent skis and snowboards on site.
Surfing is an excellent form of exercise. It strengthens nearly all the muscles in your body, challenges your balance, and works your heart and lungs. This activity also provides an opportunity to exercise your mind, as it requires extreme focus and determination. For a less extreme ocean sport, try boogie boarding.
Mastering the game of golf requires years of practice. But if you make the commitment, you find yourself rewarded not only with a killer short game, but also a strong community of fellow players. If you’re just starting out, consider signing up for lessons. And if you’re not sure the game is right for you, test it out with friends at a miniature golf course or a TopGolf facility.
A change of scenery can be the best way to clear your head and unwind. Combine the benefits of a getaway with those of recreational activity by going camping. You will need to invest in some gear, like a tent, sleeping bags, camping chairs and outdoor cookware. But these initial purchases will lend themselves to years of budget-friendly vacations.
Whether you prefer to sail on a tranquil lake, canoe down a peaceful river, or kayak on rolling ocean waves, boating can easily become a lifelong passion. While frequent participation in other recreational activities on this list may require you to purchase your own gear for comfort, you can easily become a regular boater by renting canoes, kayaks and sailboats.
To try these activities, you should enlist the help of a professional guide, or take lessons.
When it comes to more adventurous leisure activities, horseback riding is on the laid-back end. But you still shouldn’t hop in the saddle without first consulting an experienced rider. If you’ve never ridden before, sign up for a guided trail ride. Even if you have experience, you would benefit from talking with a professional about the specific horse’s traits.
This once-in-a-lifetime activity cannot be undertaken without first making the leap with a professional. Many first-time skydivers participate in a tandem jump, where they are strapped to an instructor who wears and controls the parachute. Some skydiving operators allow newbies to wear their own parachute, but you will still be accompanied by professionals.
If you are interested in geology, caving (also known as spelunking ) may be the ideal recreational activity for you. But don’t even think about heading below ground by yourself. Join an experienced spelunker for your first few outings. Not only will this help you avoid getting lost or injured, but you’ll learn more quickly about the activity.
You won’t be able to go scuba diving on your own until you become PADI certified. If you’re planning to try scuba diving while on vacation, you can take classes and get certified before your trip at one of many accredited scuba schools found throughout the USA. Many vacation destinations and resorts also offer lessons, allowing you to learn while also enjoying marine life.
Rock-climbing exercises your entire body, and will leave you with a strong sense of accomplishment. What’s more, this activity can be done both indoors and out, with many gyms featuring climbing walls. If you are new to climbing, you should sign up for a lesson with a professional. An experienced climber can show you how to properly secure your safety equipment, and how to improve your form to maximize each movement.
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