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In my opinion, there is no better way to live a happy, healthy life than by staying active. Health is one of my top priorities in life and staying active is my favorite way to stay healthy. It's a win-win. The best part is that there are so many things people can do to stay active inside or outside, all day or just for an hour or so.

First and foremost, please consult a physician and even a fitness professional prior to beginning any active regimen. It is always better to ensure that you are healthy enough to do certain physical activities and to get helpful health tips from professionals. One of my favorite things to do to stay active is go for a run. I know many people hate the idea of running and think that it is extremely strenuous and difficult, but the mental, physical and emotional results are well worth it. Running is simply about putting mind over matter. Beginners can start with a short, comfortable distance, and challenge themselves as they become stronger and faster. Whether you run for just a portion of a mile or run an entire marathon, it is still a form of staying active and always beats sitting on the couch.

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If running isn't for you, there is nothing wrong with walking. I love going for walks at local parks or around the neighborhood just to get outside and enjoy the nice weather — which is finally starting to make an appearance — and beautiful views of nature. Just going for a short, daily walk works just fine. Walking still counts as staying active and is a lot less harsh on the lungs and body than running can sometimes be. I have to admit that I am a huge gym buff. The gym is practically my home away from home. There are tons of ways to stay active at gyms in the area, from taking fitness classes to lifting weights. I once took a class called "Bootcamp" — yes, it really was as scary as it sounds — and I was sore from head to toe for days, but it was the best workout I have ever had. For people who are new to gyms, I would definitely consult with a trainer to learn all of the ins and outs of the gym, how to use all of the equipment and what workout routine would work best. Going to the gym is a great way to stay active, especially because you are surrounded by other gym-goers with similar goals who will support and help each other whenever possible.

For those who think that simply working out is boring, your perspective is completely understandable. Workout routines can get old and mundane quickly, so it is easy to lose interest. Have no fear. Playing a sport is a lot of fun and is a wonderful way to stay active. I recently started playing soccer and, yes, it definitely counts as a solid cardio workout. There are all sorts of recreation and fun leagues in the area for all kinds of sports. Soccer, fast pitch and slow pitch softball, kickball, basketball — you name it. I am always up for playing a sport. Whenever there is any way that I can exercise and have fun simultaneously, count me in.

It looks like Mother Nature is finally starting to heed Maryland residents' requests for warm weather. When it warms up, I can be found outside playing softball, kicking a soccer ball around, going for a run, hiking, playing Ultimate Frisbee or going for a walk in a park. Warm weather means that we no longer have an excuse not to get out and get active. Just taking an hour out of a couple days a week is better than nothing at all. Let's all get out, get active and enjoy this warm weather and sunshine before it starts snowing again.

Amanda Oppenheim is a sophomore at Stevenson University and can be reached at amandaoppenheim15@gmail.com.

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