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7 Ways to Get Active in Jacksonville, NC

Jacksonville offers an array of options for staying fit and healthy, and here are some of the best.

By Marc Acton on November 8, 2016

Jacksonville, NC
Jacksonville / Ian Curcio

The Jacksonville area is an outdoor paradise where you’re never more than a stones’ throw from water, you’ll probably always have a little beach sand between your toes, and there’s no reason to ever be bored. All of these outdoor opportunities mean that you also never have an excuse for sitting around. Here are seven great ways to get off the La-Z-Boy and get your butt in gear.

1. Kayak Down the Intracoastal Waterway

The Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) in the Jacksonville area is one of the most picturesque spots on the entire eastern seaboard–and a great place to dip a paddle. But worry not watersport enthusiasts: It’s not just perfect for kayaks. You can paddleboard, canoe, or even take a romantic pedal boat for two on the ICW. The best thing about this activity? Water sports are not only great at burning calories, they’re also easy on the body.

Best Health Care Facilities in Jacksonville

2. Run the Marine Corps Half Marathon

Participate in this race and you can say that you ran shoulder to shoulder with some of America’s elite soldiers. Civilians are welcome, though to get on-post you’ll just need to register with race officials and in order to get a pass. The course is flat (aka perfect for a personal best) and a great reason to train. Setting a date-based goal like signing up for a race is a great way to stay motivated.

3. Play Some Paintball

One of the best ways to stay active is to make your exercise fun; and there might not be a more fun way to burn calories than to spend a couple hours trying to avoid getting shot by paintballs. This sport a good mix of aerobic and anaerobic exercise; it requires a high level of mental acuity; and it’s a great way to practice your terrorist-busting techniques. It’s a win for everybody, including your waistline. 

Jacksonville offers two places to play paintball: Southwest Paintball and Sportsman’s Lodge.

4. Get Out in the Woods

Jacksonville is well known for its coastal living. To most people that means beach life, but if you’re more of a tree stand person, the area still has plenty to offer. The Croatan National Forest is just a hop-skip-and-jump away, and there are even more public and private lands between here and there. Take your tent, your shotgun, or your hiking shoes, and you’re sure to have a great time with your heart rate (and entertainment level) way up.

The Best Neighborhoods in Jacksonville

5. Walk the Beach

Walking is one of the best ways to burn fat—especially for seniors or non-athletes. And there isn’t a better place in the world to walk for long stretches of time than on the beach–which Jacksonville has plenty of. It’s not just the spectacular scenery either—walking on sand helps you burn more calories and give all those unused tiny muscles in your feet a better workout.

6. Mall Walk

You might not be a beach bunny, and that’s just fine. The Jacksonville Mall is also a great place to get your walk on, especially in the colder or hotter months when it may be too much to be outside. Grab your sneakers, grab some friends, and combine all your favorite things at once! (Assuming that exercise is one of your favorite things!)

7. Get Some Accountability

The best way to get active in Jacksonville has more to do with your people than your zip code. Look for a social group that advocates for fitness, like a Crossfit gym or a sports team, and embrace the active lifestyle. The social element will vastly increase the likelihood of you starting a new fitness regime and sticking with it.

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