Health & Wellness

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Embrace an active outdoor lifestyle

Blue skies and warm weather entice people to enjoy the great outdoors. For many people, few things are more enjoyable than soaking up some rays and breathing in some fresh air.

Moderate temperatures help make many outdoor activities that much more enjoyable. But even if the weather isn't perfect, individuals can make the best of the situation and still get out of the house.

As the seasons of warm weather return, those itching to get outside can explore these entertaining outdoor activities.

Hiking

Thousands of miles of hiking trails crisscross North America. These trails include rough and rugged paths blazed across natural areas and long-distance trails that stretch over portions of the country. From the Appalachian Trail in the East to the Bigfoot Trail in the west, hikers and nature enthusiasts have plenty of trails to tread.

Hiking is a great outdoor activity in part because it can be enjoyed by people of any age and just about any fitness level. Hikers can work up from relatively short and flat trails to more intense vertical and varied hikes. Local parks, government preserves and rural areas offer plenty of places to walk and hike.

When hiking, it's best to go in pairs. In the event anything occurs, such as an injury, the other hiker will be able to go for help. Hikers also should alert people at home as to their itineraries. Leave a map and plot out where you will be, especially if hikes take you off the beaten path. Remember to pack a portable snack and plenty of water. And when out in the sun, apply sunscreen and reapply as needed.

Biking

Biking is another outdoor activity ideal for people of all ages and athletic abilities. Once you've learned to ride a bicycle, that ability stays with you, whether you ride a bike each day or haven't taken one for a spin in years.

Many towns and cities across the country have become much more bike-friendly in recent years, clearing space for biking paths and lanes even in the busiest metropolitan areas. And mountain bikers still have plenty of trails to traverse as well.

Check that your bike is in good working order and that the chain is freshly oiled. Take your bike to a local cycling shop for a tuneup if necessary. Verify the fit of helmets, especially on children who may have grown since the most recent cycling season.

Horseback riding

Nature takes on an entirely different look when you are atop a horse. Horseback riding isn't just for country folk or cowboys, and it can be a great workout as well as a recreational retreat. It takes balance, strong legs and quick reflexes to stay in a saddle.

Those interested in horseback riding should visit a stable or riding academy nearby. You likely do not need to own a horse of your own, as riding schools and stables will have animals you can work with.

Remember to wear the right clothing, including long pants and boots, for riding. A hat can shade you from the overhead sun, while a helmet is adviseable for people new to the sport or those who want added protection.

Always arrive early so that you can familiarize yourself with your horse and have him or her get to know you. Approach the horse from the front left side. Horses are prey animals and can be skittish by nature, so a firm, calm greeting can reassure the animal.

These are just a few of the many outdoor activities people can enjoy when the weather warms up. Try taking exercise routines outdoors, such as running on a path instead of the treadmill. Swimming, walking, gardening, and sports activities are other fun ways to enjoy the great outdoors.