Fitness begins with an increase in one's activity level, and one way to do that is to go outdoors. Outdoor activities give people the opportunity to enjoy the fresh air and take short or long trips into nature. While they are doing this, they are also challenging their bodies in ways that are both exciting and fun. Depending on the type of activity, people may also include their children. By doing so, they are encouraging a healthy lifestyle that promotes fitness and an appreciation of the outdoors. From adventurous to relaxing, there are many different outdoor activities that beginners can choose to participate in.
Hiking is a simple, low-cost activity that is ideal for beginners. When considering hiking as an activity for the first time, a person should take his or her level of fitness into consideration. Because long hikes can be physically demanding, it is important not to push oneself beyond one's limits. Beginners or people who are not physically active or fit may consider regularly walking trails at local parks before attempting harder, longer trails at national or state parks. When choosing a park, novice hikers should look for trails that are suited for beginners. Easy trails can be found throughout the country from Little Ocmulgee Loop in Savannah, Georgia to the Hieroglyphic Canyon in Phoenix, Arizona. Online research is one way to locate easy trails. One can also check with park representatives and inquire about trails for beginners.
When it comes to gear, there are certain things that are essential for hiking. A pair of appropriately sized hiking boots or shoes are critical, as are a pair of socks that will help ensure that the wearers feet remain dry and comfortable. Hikers will need to purchase and carry a map of the area and a compass, a flashlight with additional batteries, food, additional clothing, sunglasses, a small first aid kit, a pocket knife, waterproof matches, water bottles, a whistle, sunscreen, and insect repellent. Some hikers may be tempted to skip some of these items, particularly if they are planning a day hike. Unfortunately, the unexpected can and does happen when out in the wild and a day trip can last much longer if a person becomes lost or injured. If this happens all of these items could prove potentially useful in keeping hikers safe. Other ways that hikers can ensure their safety is to avoid hiking alone, even as they become more experienced. Paying attention to what is on the ground can help them see raised roots, uneven earth, rocks and holes that cause people to fall and injure themselves. Another reason to watch where one steps or places their hand is the presence of poisonous animals and dangerous wildlife.
- Hiking Tips - Hike Smart
- Hiking 101: Choosing the Right Hike
- Discover the Fun of Day Hiking (PDF)
- Plan Ahead and Prepare
Camping is an outdoor activity that is suitable for people of all fitness levels. It is a great way for families to enjoy quality time together while appreciating nature. Like hiking trails, campgrounds are located throughout the country with many popular locations to choose from, including Yosemite National Park in California, which has thirteen campgrounds. Another popular camping location is in North Carolina in the Pisgah National Forest where there are eleven campgrounds available. Once a campground has been selected, campers will want to ensure that they are bringing the right gear with them for their safety, comfort and enjoyment. The essentials for camping include a tent with tie-downs, poles, rain fly, and stakes. Campers will want to invest in a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, pillows, and tarp. Rope, duct tape, flashlights and extra batteries, a shovel, a first-aid kit, and insect repellent are all basic must-haves. Food items include cereal, peanut butter, jelly, bread, hot dogs, granola and cereal bars, dried fruit, marshmallows, graham crackers, milk, tea, coffee, and bottled drinking water. A cooler and ice are necessary to keep perishable food items cold and safe for consumption. A cooking grate or camping stove, a stove top coffee pot, pot holders, waterproof matches, paper plates, utensils, and cups; and trash bags are also necessary items to pack.
At the campsite, beginning campers should understand the potential dangers of the outdoor environment. Wildlife, such as snakes and bears, are both potential and common risks. When it comes to bears, campers should never attempt to feed or make contact with them. If a person encounters a bear, he or she should back away slowly. If approached, he or she should stand as tall as possible, and make as much noise as possible. A person should never run in an attempt to escape a bear. To avoid snakes and other critters, campers should always look where they are walking or placing their hands to avoid accidental contact. Wearing insect repellent can help keep insects away and reduce the chance of irritating bites. Once prepared for these potential threats, campers can enjoy themselves. Hiking is a common activity that people often enjoy when camping; however, people who are interested in staying closer to the campsite may prefer other activities such as camping games. This is particularly true when children are a part of the group. Scavenger hunts are an example of a good way to enjoy the surrounding environment as a group. Other activities include sharing stories around the campfire, or playing team games such as Poison Ball.
Rafting is a type of paddle sport that is also an extreme sport. Most commonly referred to as white water rafting, it is an activity that beginners can take part in alongside more experienced individuals. People interested in rafting will want to join a group led by an experienced and trained guide. There are various difficulty levels associated with rafting that are called river classifications. River classifications are based on what is called the International Scale of River Difficulty, which classifies rivers based on the temperament of the water and the level of challenge that they represent. Classifications are rated from a relatively calm Class I to the extreme Class V. Beginners often start with Class I, II, and even III on their first outing. The Salmon River from Kilpatrick to North Fork in the Salmon City Area in Idaho is a class I - II and is suitable for beginners. The Shenandoah River in Virginia is another popular river that is suitable for beginners due to its relative calmness.
A personal flotation device and a helmet are the two most important pieces of equipment that a person will need when rafting. Both can save the rafter's life in the event that he or she falls from the raft. Because rafting is a paddling sport, a paddle is an obvious piece of equipment that is needed for participation. In addition to wearing a personal flotation device and a helmet, rafters can also ensure their safety by strictly following the instructions that are given by their guide. People should never go rafting alone, after drinking alcohol, at night, or attempt a river that is classified beyond their skill and experience.
- Whitewater Rafting - Equipment
- Colorado River Outfitters Association - River Comfort, Fun and Safety Tips
- The Joy of Rafting
Rock climbing is an outdoor activity that requires a good deal of skill and physical fitness. It involves climbing natural rock formations and involves a considerable amount of risk. People who are new to this activity will want to learn from someone who is an experienced climber. It is important to practice and climb only in areas that are designated as safe for rock climbing, such as Giant City State Park in Makanda, IL. At Vedauwoo in Wyoming, beginning climbers may wish to try Edward's Crack which has an easy rating and is considered suitable for climbers of all stages. Before one's first attempt at rock climbing, it is necessary to have the right equipment on hand, starting with a good pair of snug fitting climbing shoes. In addition to their shoes, they will also need climbing rope, carabiners, webbing, harnesses, a belay device, protection, and spring-loaded camming devices. A person who is just beginning as a rock climber may also choose to wear a helmet; although not necessary it does offer an additional level of protection. In addition to having the right equipment, rock climbers should check weather conditions in advance as rain can affect the rock surface and otherwise make the environment unsafe for climbing. Alcohol, medications, and any type of recreational drugs increases the risks associated with rock climbing and should be avoided. Climbers should use caution when it comes to using anchors that have been left in the rock by other climbers as they may not be secure.
- Rock Climbing Equipment and Techniques - Equipment
- Rock Climbing ��� Code of Conduct for Safety
- Choosing a Pair of Climbing Shoes
by: Kylie Richardson