7 ways wilderness can help you achieve your New Year's resolutions

Denali National Park, Alaska

Flikr creative commons: Paxson Woelber

Each year, almost half of American adults make resolutions on New Year's Day. These Americans are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than those who don't make resolutions. However, it is often hard to keep the ball rolling after the first month, and less than half of those who declare resolutions are able to keep them going after six months.

This year, you can achieve your goals by incorporating adventures into wilderness into your plan. Here's how time spent outdoors in wild lands can help you make your efforts more enjoyable:

  1. Health and fitness through recreation. Many resolutions are related to weight loss and smoking cessation, both of which can be aided through exercise. The best way to get active is to get outdoors, where beautiful scenery provides instant rewards for your endeavors.

  1. Spend more time with family. Weekly trips to local natural places provides opportunities for family bonding and for forming lasting memories. Your children will especially benefit greatly.

  1. Manage stress better. Stress may be unavoidable, but research has shown that even short periods of time outdoors can improve your ability to think clearly and help improve your mood

  1. Save money. Instead of dining out or catching the latest movie release, plan a trip to a wild place where entertainment is free. Exercise in a local park instead of joining a gym. You may even be able to forage for wild fruits or mushrooms while on your trek through the forest (you will need to seek expert guidance and check local regulations beforehand for this of course).

  1. Visit new places. If you plan to travel in 2013, consider visiting one of our nation's 58 tremendous national parks. Each offers unique sights and experiences as well as memories to last a lifetime. You can accomplish your thrifty goals too by camping and cooking outdoors instead of paying for a hotel and restaurant meals.

  1. Volunteer. If you want to give back, consider volunteering at a public land near you. Not only will you be helping visitors but you will be contributing to efforts to maintain these places for countless ones in future generations. Your tasks may even involve some of your favorite outdoor activities! Ask your local forest, refuge, park or monument about opportunities or visit www.wildernessvolunteers.org or recreation.gov for more information.

  1. Learn something new. The outdoors offers unending opportunities to challenge yourself and expand your horizons. Whether its taking up a new sport like snowshoeing or climbing, or learning how to identify edible plants or bird songs, wild places are ideal for acquiring and mastering new skills.

Remember, the best ways to ensure that you keep your resolutions is to set realistic goals, make a plan, and share them publicly. Tell us your plans on how to use wilderness to achieve your 2013 goals!

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