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Who says exercise has to be work? Just head outdoors and start having fun! Here, 13 great ideas to get moving, pump up energy, and make fitness part of your everyday life

Remember when you were a kid and the activities you did all summer--biking, swimming, playing tag--never felt like work but pure pleasure? You can easily recapture that feeling again as a grown-up. All it takes is a little outdoor exploration.

Even traditional exercise feels easier and more enjoyable when you do it outside--and your energy levels will soar. New activities also naturally shape and slim your body as you use new muscles to maximize calorie burn. And you'll have so much fun you won't even notice that you're working out.

The beauty of exercising outdoors is that the sky, literally, is the limit. Here, our 13 favorite activities with smart ideas on how to get started. Consider this your chance to get happy, healthy, and strong, while having fun with family or friends--or capturing some much-needed "me" time.
Bike Riding

Some Summer Nostalgia

THE FASTEST ROUTE to feeling like a kid again is to hop on a bike, even if it's been years since your last ride. Along the way, you'll burn more than 500 calories an hour pedaling at a relatively moderate pace, while sculpting your legs and butt--without stressing your knees.

Yes, you can! Whether you rent, borrow, or pull an old bike out of the garage, two key moves will keep you comfortable: Inflate your tires and check your seat height. "The softer your tires, the harder it will be to ride," says John Howard, author of Mastering Cycling. And to avoid a sore rear, make sure your leg is extended with only a slight bend when it's in the 6 o'clock position.

Try before you buy! RentABikeNow.com lists rentals in hundreds of cities and offers roadside assistance and free bad-weather cancellations. If you want to avoid cars, go to traillink.com to find bike paths in your area.
Trail Running

A Scenic De-Stressor

WHEN YOU'RE OUT On the trail, it's more about appreciating what's around you than worrying about how fast you're going. In fact, it's often better to take some walking breaks, especially on hilly or uneven terrain. But you'll burn about 30% more calories than hiking (about 600 an hour).

Yes, you can! Lots of people avoid running because it hurts their joints, but dirt trails have softer impact. Just choose a shorter route than normal. "Running on a hilly trail will take longer than on the road," says Nancy Hobbs, executive director of the American Trail Running Association.

Try It! Regular running shoes will get you started. Invest in trail running shoes if you head out more than once a week. For trails and more beginner tips, go to trailrunner.com.
Geocaching

A Hiking Treasure Hunt

THE THRILL OF SEARCHING for one of a million treasures or caches (typically, small plastic boxes holding trinkets and a log book) turns a walk in the woods into your own Survivor adventure. As you explore your surroundings, you'll burn about 400 calories an hour.

Yes, you can! You don't have to be good with directions or know how to use a compass. Just go to geocaching.com to choose a cache. Then plug the coordinates into a handheld GPS or cell phone with built-in GPS. Start with a 1/1 rated cache--which means it's not too hard to find and on relatively easy terrain--and look for any location hints on the Web site.

Try before you buy! If you don't want to invest in a GPS (they cost about $100 and up), some libraries and parks rent devices for the day.
In-Line Skating

The Joy of Speed

RUNNERS AND WALKERS will be excited to cover more ground, burn more calories--upward of 800 an hour--and sculpt the underused muscles in their inner thighs and hips. You can do it anywhere there's pavement: Sneak in a quick lunchtime workout or have a chat-and-roll with a pal.

Yes, you can! Even beginners will have a blast because this low-impact activity is easy to pick up. Practice good form while stationary on grass or carpet: knees bent so you can't see your toes, hands in front of you, and pelvis tucked, says Liz Miller, author of Get Rolling: The Beginner's Guide to In-Line Skating. To brake: Slide right foot forward at least 10 inches, then lift toe. (If you're left-handed, switch the brake to your left skate for better balance.)

Try it! Visit getrolling.com for loads of beginner-friendly tips and free instructional videos.
Boot Camp

The Perfect Girlfriend Workout

TIME TO DROP your to-do list and let someone else be in charge for an hour. Get back to basics--like jumping jacks, running, squats, and push-ups--with lots of fresh air to keep you energized from start to finish. Whether your group uses resistance bands and light weights or relies on rocks, logs, and anything else Mother Nature might offer, you can expect to burn about 450 calories an hour while toning your muscles from head to toe.

Yes, you can! You don't have to be able to do full push-ups or scale walls to join. Most instructors work with all fitness levels and provide modifications for difficult moves, while other participants often offer encouragement and help.

Try it! Search for a boot camp class near you at outdoor-fitness-boot-camp.meetup.com.
Cardio Tennis

Recess for Adults

CHANNEL YOUR INNER SERENA by learning tennis basics from baseline sprints to forehand to backhand shots. Take your stress out on the ball (there's no "out of bounds"!) while sculpting your legs, arms, chest, shoulders, and core. It's all set to music and done in a group--for a truly energizing experience that burns around 350 to 500 calories an hour.

Yes, you can! Don't let the name fool you: You don't even have to know how to play tennis! "The class isn't concerned with where or how you hit the ball--or if you miss it altogether--because no one is keeping score," says Michele Krause, national manager of the Cardio Tennis program.

Try it! You can find a Cardio Tennis class near you at cardiotennis.com.
Fly-Fishing

A Moving Meditation

THE RHYTHM of casting the line and feeling the water flowing past you makes fly-fishing extremely meditative--and adds up to a surprisingly high calorie burn (more than 400 an hour, about the same as a brisk walk uphill).

Yes, you can! You don't have to travel to Montana or Alaska to get a taste of fly-fishing. While you do need the basic gear (rod, reel, waders for cold water, flies, and a license), some of the 250-plus fly-fishing clubs nationwide (see below) may loan out equipment. And getting the hang of casting requires no more coordination than swinging a golf club or a tennis racket.

Try before you buy! Search online to find a fly-fishing school near you. Or go to the Federation of Fly Fishers Web site (fedflyfishers.org) to locate a club that offers clinics.
Stand-Up Paddling

A Tranquil Ab Workout

ANYONE WHO'S EVER honeymooned in Hawaii has seen stand-up fans navigating ocean waves with their paddles. Today the sport--a combination of surfing and kayaking--is popping up on rivers, lakes, and ocean inlets throughout the country as a low-key way to spend time on the water while going at your own speed. Paddle fast and you'll get an aerobic Challenge (and burn about 400 calories an hour), or go slow arid enjoy the Zen vibe.

Yes, you can! It's easier than it looks! Stand-up boards are larger than surfboards and designed to be very stable. It's rare for even beginners to fall, but if you do, it's all part of the fun (and a good way to cool off!).

Try before you buy! Many surf shops and outdoor sports centers rent boards; search "stand up paddle rentals" and your location. Check out an instruction video on YouTube (search "SUP: How To").
BACKYARD FUN!

Want to inject some healthy energy into your family bonding time? Pry everyone away from their Blackberrys, laptops, and video games with these time-tested games. 1-5 rank: easiest to most challenging

BURN 300+ CALORIES AN HOUR

BADMINTON

There's no keeping score

No net? Just volley to see how long you can keep the shuttlecock in the air. Count the hits and aim for more each time.

> $15 and up for rackets and birdies

FRISBEE

No catching required

Pick a target and play Bull's-Eye. Take turns throwing the Frisbee to see whose shot lands the closest. Mark the spots if you're playing with just one Frisbee.

> $8 to $20 for a Frisbee

SHOOTING HOOPS

Dribbling optional

Challenge everyone to a game of Around the World. Shoot from five or seven spots in an arc around the basket. (Younger players can stand closer.) Every time you sink one, move to the next spot. First one to finish wins.

> $10 and up for a ball

BOCCE BALL

Easier than bowling

Just toss the pallino, a small ball, onto the grass. Then try to get your balls as close as possible. To keep the game fair, have the most-skilled players throw with their nondominant hand.

> $20 to $40 for a set

HOPSCOTCH

Speed and balance challenge both kids and adults

Race to see who can hop through the pattern the fastest. (Search "hopscotch diagrams" online if you need to see what it looks like.) To really test your stability, throw two stones, one at the start and one at the end, to hop over two squares each time. Or use a coin because it's harder to pick up than a stone.

> $2 to $5 for a box of chalk to draw the diagram

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By Alyssa Shaffer

Photographs by John Kernick

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