Taking It Outside

by Angela Yorke | June 4th, 2012 | Family Fitness

One of the best ways to get the whole family involved in fitness is by taking it outdoors. Not only will there be nowhere to hide from the resident fitness fanatic, it’s likely that your family will wind up having a good time as well.

One such outdoor activity is orienteering. On the surface, it doesn’t sound much different from hiking; however, orienteering involves the use of a compass and map, combined with the coverage of courses where suitability ranges virtually all fitness levels and age groups. An orienteering course can be walked, jogged, run, or cycled. Orienteering is a good family activity, because everyone can contribute to each aspect of covering a course.

Compared to orienteering, hiking might seem like a less precise, more leisurely activity. Make no mistake though, the ability to use a map and compass will come in very handy if you decide to go on a long hike in unfamiliar terrain. Essentially, a family hike should be an enjoyable, relatively long walk through nature on a well-marked trail that leads to a particular nature site of interest.

Another outdoor activity that is suitable for the whole family is geocaching. Involving the use of a GPS unit (different from the one used for driving), geocaching can be described simply as an electronics-assisted treasure hunt. Treasure hunters use their GPS to seek out caches based on coordinates posted on a geocaching website. The treasure is usually hidden off-road or off-trail in wooded areas.

Based on this, geocaching would mean a decent amount of walking for the family aiming to be fitter. Take note that geocaching etiquette requires finders to leave something in return for what is taken from the cache. This is usually a small, non-food item that won’t degrade in outdoor conditions.

Variations to geocaching include virtual geocaching, where there is no physical cache but participants track down a particular location and photograph themselves there, and earthcaching, which involves the discovery of a natural wonder or event.

If your family is new to such activities, ensure that you start with shorter, relatively easy routes. Remember that older and younger family members might not be able to sustain a brisk pace right off the bat, so be prepared to rest frequently and bring sufficient sustenance.

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All health and fitness information is provided for educational purposes. Please consult with your physician before beginning any exercise regimen.