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I have been drawn to the outdoors as long as I can remember. In turn, I am familiar with and have actually participated in a plethora of outdoor activities throughout the years.

Anybody who knows me would likely be quick to agree that my most avid outdoor passions are hunting and fishing. However, there are other activities which I have continued pursuing pretty much throughout my entire life.

I spent countless hours on a bicycle as a youngster and seldom did a day go by during my childhood when I didn't manage to stray into the forest. Well, I still find myself drawn to wooded areas. And although my time on a bicycle is not remotely as plentiful as it was years ago, I still find pleasure in riding.

In fact, I always resort to these two activities upon deciding its time to get off of my keister and exercise. Well, it just so happens that I recently came to the conclusion that exercise must become a more consistent part of my life.

Let's face it. I'm no longer a spring chicken and have reached that age when one's health often begins to dwindle. Although my health is good right now, I've recently witnessed several friends experiencing serious illness -- some that can be overcome, some that are debilitating and some that actually lent to their demise.

I realize that time has an adverse effect on all, and nobody is immune to the potential of serious illness, regardless of lifestyle. However, I am also aware that taking a proactive approach ups one's odds of remaining healthy for a longer period of time. That in mind, I have recently taken steps to avoid illness and, most importantly of all, causing my wife to suffer through unnecessary grief and heartaches.

I can say with all certainty that changing my eating habits has proven most difficult. Getting back into the groove of crawling out of the sack early every morning to exercise proved a chore as well. However, I am no stranger to rising early, and the exercise regimen is growing much easier. In fact, it's somewhat addictive.

Well, things haven't changed much in the sense that I have once again resorted to riding and hiking as my main means of getting in shape. However, I have noticed that my preferences of which activities are most favored has certainly changed.

Back in the day, I most enjoyed maneuvering my mountain bike along designated trails cutting their way along natural surfaces. My second choice would have been hiking. And riding my bike along paved roads and trails was at the bottom of the list.

I have embarked upon all three of the aforementioned activities during the past month. And I have actually been somewhat surprised at which activities are quickly becoming my favorite.

It didn't take long to realize that my passion for mountain biking has noticeably subsided. I still enjoy traversing my mountain bike through rugged terrain and am swayed by the fact that this activity is by far the most physically demanding.

I have recognized though that a few issues have reared their ugly head with age. First and foremost, my vision is not as keen as it once was. In turn, I do not recognize obstacles as quickly, lending to less response time. This issue might seem minuscule to some. But it's a large issue to me, as I have also grown more aware of the potential of injury throughout the years.

In turn, I can say that mountain biking has become my least favorite of the three activities. Don't get me wrong. I still plan to ride trails. But the routes I choose and choices I make will be much more moderate than they were back in the day.

My passion for riding bikes on the road and hard-surfaced trails has certainly increased. There's something to be said for riding on a smooth surface. And one can actually determine the difficulty level of their ride via an impressive selection of gears.

But there are inherent dangers of riding the roads as well. Of course I strive to avoid any run-ins with cars, but let's face it: the potential is there. And I often ponder the results of a collision with an unsuspecting deer or other critter while traveling downhill at high speeds.

But dangers lurk with any activity. And I refuse to allow a few potential problems to end activities which I enjoy. That being said, biking on hard surfaces is my second favorite activity.

Now let's get to my favorite means of exercise. I have logged many a mile kicking through the woods, during my lifetime, and my passion has not lessened. I'm okay with following a trail every now and then, but I am most satisfied while bushwhacking.

Of course, we all have to take precautions to avoid the aftereffects of ticks, chiggers and other nagging insects. And there are those who will walk several miles just to avoid a confrontation with a snake. But I, personally, will suffer through a few insect bites and am more than happy to share the woods with a reptile that is likely the most hated critter calling Arkansas home.

There's nothing comparable to quietly easing through an environment that is far less controlled than anything we will see in the city, yet far more peaceful. Yep, I truly enjoy a trek into the forest. And in turn, hiking is by far my favorite medicine for mental and physical improvements.

Sports on 08/09/2018

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