Want to Be More Outdoorsy? Start Small

Do you like the idea of spending more time in the great outdoors but aren’t quite sure where to start?

If you weren’t raised in a family that regularly hiked, camped or spent time outside, it can feel intimidating to know just how and where to begin. But the pursuit is well worth it, as time spent outdoors surrounded by nature has been shown to be beneficial to mental health. Outdoor activities are also an enjoyable way to meet fitness goals without making exercise feel like a chore.

Here are some easy ways to get started on your quest to be more ‘outdoorsy’.

Start small, start local. Getting outside doesn’t have to mean weeks of planning and packing – you just have to get outside and make it part of your routine! Start by simply going for a walk after dinner at a local park. Once that feels comfortable, step it up and enjoy a longer journey at a larger state park on your next day off. If you have children, bring them along and take time to point out any unfamiliar plants or wildlife on your way. You can even turn your walks into a treasure hunt by getting into geocaching.

Plan a short hiking trip during the day. Once you establish a walking routine, consider scouting out good hiking spots near you. Hiking is just a fancy form of walking if you think about it. The terrain might be more uneven, so you’ll need to invest in sturdier shoes and think about a few more logistics, but ultimately, finding a short hiking trail you enjoy can be an opportunity to explore new scenery you wouldn’t have been able to before. Read our comprehensive guide on where to go in Michigan and what you’ll need.

Spend a night outside. Once you feel more comfortable trekking through the woods, it might be time to plan a camping trip. Start with a weekend overnighter. If you aren’t ready to invest in gear, there are companies that rent tents and other equipment so you can try it before you buy it. Another option would be to look for a campground with cabins or yurts to book, so you have less of the stress of setting up camp and more time to commune with nature. Our complete camping guide will have you pitching a tent in no time and you’re also going to want to know how to build a campfire – no camping trip is complete without one.

No matter how you get outside, it’s important to be mindful of your impact on natural areas. From local parks to national parks, principles related to leaving no trace should guide you. These include planning ahead and preparing for your outdoor adventure, traveling and camping only on preexisting trails and camp sites, properly disposing of your waste, not taking rocks or flowers, minimizing campfire impacts to prevent fires, respecting wildlife and being considerate of other visitors.

Where are your favorite outdoor escapes? Share with us in the comments.

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Photo credit: alexeys

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