For anyone who travels on a regular basis, staying in shape can be difficult.
Many professionals in various areas of business go from one city to another week in, week out. You may not stay in hotels with their own gyms, and you may not want to work out in your room when there’s a new place to explore.
Luckily, running allows you to get all the exercise you need in a hassle-free, cost-effective way – while also letting you see the sights.
America has plenty of fantastic cities for runners. Let’s look at five of the best …
New York, New York
New York is an incredible place for runners. To start with, Central Park offers a six-mile loop that lets you take in the gorgeous surroundings as you get your blood pumping.
You won’t be alone, either. There are around 60,000 members in the New York Road Runners club, guaranteeing you’ll see many of other people working up a sweat on those iconic streets. Especially as the five-borough marathon nears – as the biggest in the States, this event attracts new and seasoned runners alike.
Like New York and America’s other major cities, Chicago sees countless business-travelers come and go during the week. It’s a great city for anyone looking to stretch their legs while in town, with an 18-mile path following Lake Michigan.
Chicago has more tan its fair share of amazing views, and there are numerous water fountains set up to keep runners hydrated. You’ll also find restrooms in abundance – always helpful if you’re stopping at each of those fountains!
San Francisco, California
One of America’s most famous cities, San Francisco is a running hotspot, with 16 clubs and well over 250 races this year alone. It’s easy to see why, too, with Kezar Stadium offering a public track that’s kept thousands satisfied for almost a century.
You can also explore a terrific three-mile Lands End Coastal Trail, which brings you to Sutro Baths (saltwater pools). This is just one of many routes, and the city’s a gorgeous place to explore whichever you choose.
As with New York, you’ll also feel like you’re running through one movie-location after another. Especially when you cross that amazing Golden Gate Bridge.
While Seattle is known for its drizzly weather, it’s nevertheless a terrific place for runners. There are countless runs throughout the year, with some of those themed around Christmas and other holidays incredibly entertaining for all.
No matter what your preferences, you have a massive range of trails to choose from, providing miles upon miles of path to explore.
For example, the Burke-Gilman Trail offers 27 miles, and covers flat terrain and helpful mile-markers to help you keep track. Another highlight is Green Lake, and Lake Union (offering a full 10K circuit all the way around).
You also won’t struggle to find a nice cup of coffee when you’re done, either.
For runners touching down in Boston, one of the most obvious routes is the path along the Charles River. This crosses 18 miles, and is a popular spot with locals and visitors alike.
There’s also the Emerald Necklace, which is more than 1000 acres covering nine interlinked parks.
Before you set out on any long-distance urban run, you need to make sure you have comfortable sneakers that will offer your feet the right support. You should also wear several layers, so you can peel one off at a time as your temperature continues to rise.
Mountain climbing carries a certain degree of risk in even the warmest months, but this increases significantly in winter. It’s vital to plan ahead and exercise considerable caution on sites posing no obvious danger.
Heavy snowfall, plunging temperatures, and excessive winds can all make mountain climbing a challenge for the most experienced of us. Whether you’re planning on going out there as a pair or in a group, safety is paramount.
Never let yourself be complacent if there are several of you climbing together – everyone has to invest the same degree of preparation and vigilance.
Here are our tips for staying safe while mountain climbing in winter …
Research Avalanche Conditions Ahead of Time
Without doubt, avalanches are one of the most dangerous natural events in winter. Before you set out on your climb, check your local weather station for the latest updates. You should also visit avalanche.org, sponsored by The American Avalanche Association, which is filled with essential information.
You’ll also be able to find detailed information in forums and online communities, so get to know other like-minded climbers.
You may also want to call ahead to your destination’s ranger station, to ask for their advice on avalanche risks and expected conditions throughout the day.
Take the ‘Onion’ Approach
You need to wear several layers in winter. Rather than wearing a padded coat and a thick sweater, layers mean you can peel off should you start to overheat.
Sounds ridiculous? Consider the amount of physical exertion required to climb a mountain, and you’ll see how you can still overheat in chilly conditions. Being able to take a layer or two off will make you more comfortable, without you having to remove something more substantial.
Don’t forget to wear thermals, which wick moisture away from your skin. Carry spare socks and a change of thermals, in case you need to freshen up.
If you’re climbing snowy terrain in bright weather, sunglasses are essential to prevent glare affecting your sight. Snowblindness is a real danger, as is sunburn – pack sun-block in your backpack, even if you think you may not need it.
Choose the Smartest Route
Generally, climbing ridges is safer in winter than tackling faces. The reason? Ridges tend to be free of deep snow, and as they’re windswept the snow is typically safer to cross than powdery surfaces.
Just be careful, though, as cornices form on the side of ridges. If you tread on these without realizing, they may well break under your weight – sending you over the edge.
At a more basic level, choose routes that pose a simpler experience. Trails you may walk in summer without any problems whatsoever are likely to be totally different in winter, with heavy snowfall, rain, and ice. With information from the local weather station and other climbers, you’ll be able to identify the safest trails for your level of experience.
Again, this comes down to investing time into effective research. Simply heading out on a climb on the spur of the moment is easily done, and may seem exciting, but you can’t afford to ignore the dangers posed by winter mountains.
We stock a range of mountaineering gear to help you get the most out of your winter climbs, and have a range of waterproof backpacks to keep your supplies dry (vital in case you fall into snow often or get caught in the rain).
Prepare, pack all the right supplies, wear the best gear you can find, and don’t push yourself into challenges beyond your abilities.
Struggling to get up, out, and busy during the cold days? You’re not alone. Staying active is essential for good health all the year round, but getting the exercise we need in winter demands more motivation than some of us can muster.
For families especially, staying fit together takes effort – especially if you have warring siblings who struggle to co-operate at any time, let alone when exercising.
Still, just because there’s snow on the ground, a chill in the air, and ice on our lakes doesn’t mean you can’t get out there. In fact, that opens up new, exciting possibilities.
Here are just a few winter outdoors exercise ideas for families …
First and foremost, snowshoeing is one of the most healthy winter activities you can enjoy. For families, this is the perfect way to burn off all those calories consumed over the holiday period. For example, walking on flat terrain burns around 370 calories per hour (for someone weighing 120Ibs).
Meanwhile, trekking hilly areas covered with packed snow offers more than 1000 calories’ worth of exercise (for people weighing in at 180Ibs).
Now, we’re not suggesting you should send your kids walking for hours at a time with snowshoes on their feet, but trying this activity as a family is a fun way to kick-start your metabolism.
Nature Walks in National Parks
America’s national parks are beautiful all year round, and are an ideal site for a little nature-tour during winter. Take your kids on one of the many trails and see how many different types of flora and fauna you can spot, with incentives. For example, you might want to offer them a treat if they can identify five different kinds of bird, trees, etc.
Not only will going on a nature walk for an hour or more burn calories and work your muscles, it’ll also educate you all at the same time.
One of the great winter traditions: building a snowman.
Big fun? Absolutely. But there are actually various benefits to building a snowman, snowcastle, or any other snow-sculpture.
First, if you do this as a family, you’ll be working together to achieve a set goal, encouraging collaboration and communication. You’ll also be working your muscles as you scoop up snow, pack it in place, run around – building a snowman can burn around 285 calories per hour.
Once you’re done, you’ll get to stand back and appreciate what you’ve all accomplished together as a unit. It’s a fantastic way to get valuable exercise, bond as a family, and explore your creativity.
Sledding can burn around 450 calories per hour on average, mostly through stomping back uphill with your sled behind you. As anyone who does this on a regular basis will know, this does have a major impact on your thighs, at least!
Sledding can be enjoyed as part of a day of winter activities, such as hiking, ice skating, and building snowmen. Make the most of the crisp, snowy days while they’re here.
If you plan to play in the snow, go hiking, or sled, you’ll need to take drinks, spare clothes, and snacks with you. Carry your supplies in a waterproof backpack to keep them dry.
It goes without saying that you’ll want to introduce your children to the joys of the open road, but this is easier said than done.
Getting them interested in exercise can be tricky enough, while keeping them safe and happy is a challenge you may not relish.
After all, when you bike alone, you only have yourself to worry about. Each turn, each set of traffic lights, and each descent you come to, you are your sole concern.
With kids, this all changes. You want to make sure they’re observing the rules of the road, learning the necessary techniques, and not developing bad habits. You also have to make sure they’re having fun from start to finish.
If you’re looking to start taking your children out on bike rides with you, there are certain things you can try to make it easier.
Consider a Child’s Seat for Young Starters
If your child’s too young to ride their own bike, they can still go along for a day out. Fitting a child’s seat to your bicycle is a simpler alternative to a trailer, and might give you more peace of mind knowing they’re right behind you.
After you fit the bike, you should practice riding with a bag of potatoes or rocks of a similar weight to your child. This will help you get used to managing the extra pounds and handling the bike with another person on-board.
By being out on the road without the responsibility of managing their own bike, your children will get used to the activity and other vehicles early. You also get to take direct charge of their safety, rather than simply riding alongside them.
How Far Should they Ride on their Own Bike?
When your child’s ready to ride their own bike on a family day out, how much distance should you aim to cover?
Start small. Aim for around two or four miles on your early rides, and add more over following sessions, but don’t rush them. If they appear too tired or grow frustrated over shorter distances, let them stop.
Be sure to make stops after every mile, even for just a few minutes. Let them stretch their legs, catch their breath, have a drink.
The important thing is to ensure they enjoy cycling and develop an affection for it. Pushing them too far too soon may cause them to lose interest.
Be sure to take snacks with you on your family bike-rides. A delicious, healthy snack makes a great treat to reward your kids with at the end of your journey, and can be used as an incentive to keep going if they start to flag when you only have a little further to go.
You also need to pack drinks for everyone, ideally something sweet that will give them energy (or at least appear to do so). Pack fresh fruit-juices, such as OJ, or flavored water. Make sure to carry these in a waterproof backpack, to avoid little accidents and minimize problems caused by potential spillages.
Another great way to prepare for a fun, successful bike ride with your kids is to make the destination a real incentive. Suggest a ride to the theater when they want to see a new movie, or to a restaurant you’ve all wanted to try for some time.
Follow these tips, and you may well encourage your children to fall in love with cycling for life.
Buying a tent for your first camping trip might seem simple, but once you actually step foot into a store or browse online catalogs, you’ll see just how hard it can be.
Why? There are many, many different tents available on today’s market.
As with buying any new product, you want to be sure you’re investing in the best model for your needs, which is easier said than done.
Depending on the specific camping trip you plan to take, various factors will affect your purchasing decisions. Are you going alone, as a couple, or with your family? Are you staying in a hot location or a national park prone to drizzle?
Don’t let yourself be too daunted by the sheer variety on offer. Read our buying guide to get the answers you need …
Size: How Big Does your Tent Need to Be Anyway?
Generally, you’ll see tents sized by their berths, or the number of people it can comfortably accommodate.
Without doubt, this is one of the most crucial factors. Choose a tent designed for two bodies for a five-man camping trip, and you’re likely to face problems. Likewise, a family-sized tent might leave a solo holidaymaker feeling a tad small.
Typically, two adults will be perfectly comfortable with a four-berth tent, while families of three or more people will need to go for at least double this. 10-man tents are available at the bigger end of the spectrum, but remember that the larger it is, the longer it takes to build.
Design: A-Frame or Pop-Ups?
There are numerous different types of tent, and we haven’t the space to explore them all here. Instead, we’ll look at the two most common.
A-frame tents are the traditional design. These are pretty easy to put together when you’ve had a little practice, with poles running along the center and meeting at either end with your fabric laid across them.
Pop-up tents are much easier to put together, as the poles are already inside the fabric. Once you set them up, the tent will just pop-up by itself, saving plenty of time. This can be a big help if you get caught in heavy rain or you want to get in out of the cold in a hurry.
Layers: Single or Double?
Not every tent has two layers of fabric protecting you from the elements. Some basic designs come with just one sheet, which is fine for a warm night in dry weather.
However, for lower temperatures in rainy seasons, you’ll want two layers to keep you as warm and safe as possible. Check how much space sits between the two layers: if you can fit your fist in there, you’ll be fine. With both layers touching, you’re less likely to escape the dreaded leak in wet weather.
Whichever tent you choose, be sure to practice setting it up at least two times before you take it out into the world. You don’t want to arrive at your camping site with no idea how it works or that it’s way too small.
Be sure to keep your valuables in a waterproof backpack during the night, just in case a leak should occur. With a good-quality tent, it’s unlikely, but not impossible.
Ask friends, family, and colleagues for recommendations. Someone may be able to help you find the ideal tent to ensure your camping trip stays as warm, dry, and safe as possible.
For most of us, sport is a fun way to relax and unwind. For others, it’s a pulse-pounding experience that pushes you to the very brink of your limits, danger be damned.
Extreme sports are popular right across the globe, and particularly so here in America. As anyone who has ever watched a documentary or movie about extreme sports will know, these involve a staggering degree of risk and can take a massive physical toll.
Still, there’s no denying that extreme sports are incredibly attractive to even the most inactive observers. While you might never actually want to take part yourself, the extreme-sports community continues to enjoy great popularity, and cutting-edge recording technology lets spectators get right into the action with online videos.
Curious adventurers looking for a way in should familiarize themselves with the full range of activities, to find the one best-suited to their skills and experience.
Want to know more? We’ve compiled a list of four extreme sports to inspire you …
Snowboarding might get your adrenaline pumping and accommodate all kinds of high-flying tricks, but it’s accessible to almost anyone at an indoor-slope or snowbound resort.
Investing in the right snowboarding gear may not be cheap, but once you have the equipment, all you need is a reputable teacher to show you the ropes. Consider getting involved by attending an indoor training center and taking a lesson or two.
Staying upright on your board and learning to move your body with the required precision takes a lot of practice, so don’t be afraid to take it slow. There are around 7 million people snowboarding regularly in the USA, so you’re in good company if you take it up!
Even though paintball involves nothing so dangerous as leaping off a cliff, it still asks participants to be brave. As anyone who’s taken part in paintball knows, taking a pellet or two does bring a certain amount of pain – but the thrill of synthetic combat is undeniable!
Around 3 million people take part in paintball across the States, and there are both indoor and outdoor versions available. With the right safety gear, paintball is a safe way to have fun and unleash your competitive side.
Like snowboarding, windsurfing is incredibly exciting to watch, with the rigs themselves featuring a cool, sleek design.
This on-water sport blends sailing with surfing, placing participants on a board with a sail and a mast. Being able to windsurf is a skill demanding considerable dedication, discipline, and physical fitness – but it’s terrific fun.
At the last estimate, there were around 1.7 million windsurfers in the USA.
Surfing is, without doubt, one of the world’s most well-known extreme sports. Not only do surfers enjoy a cool, laid-back image (true or not), they also get to engage with the awesome power of nature in a way few of us do.
Around 1.7 million Americans people take to the sea in their board at least once each year, and there are 23 million surfers across the globe. Interested in learning? You’ll be able to find lessons pretty much anywhere in the States, but don’t expect to be riding waves within an hour or so. You’ll have to familiarize yourself with balancing on a board, changing position, and managing your direction.
Having the right equipment in any extreme sport is vital. Whether this is safety gear, waterproof storage, or the proper type of clothing, you need to invest in the best available to maximize your enjoyment and performance.