As the seasons begin to change and football season starts, too many people pack up their sportswear and get sedentary with some chips and dip. In an effort to keep you from limiting your exercise to reaching for the remote, the members and editors of travel website VirtualTourist.com compiled a list of the "Top Five Most Scenic Workouts."
1. Hiking Cinque Terre in Italy
Italy has long been a bastion of cultural icons and landmarks, from religious sites to Renaissance masterpieces. Of the sites to be visited, Cinque Terre is among the most beautiful, and also the most unique. Composed of five small villages perched above the Ligurian Sea, the towns date back to the late medieval period and are still, in 2012, unable to be reached by car. While one can access them by train and boat, neither transport provides the same experience as the hike between the towns: slowly descending from the rocky cliffs into each brightly painted fishing village is an experience unlike any other in the world. Hiking from Riomaggiore, the southernmost village, to the fifth town, Monterosso, is quite a workout (18 kilometers, or 11 miles, and usually takes about five hours, but it can be longer depending on how fit you are).
2. Stand-up paddle-boarding in Milford Sound, New Zealand
The sport of stand-up paddle-boarding has been growing in popularity exponentially in recent years, and few places provide the gorgeous scenery and flat waters of Milford Sound in New Zealand. The expansive beauty of South Island's Fjordland National Park makes the five hour journey by car or tour bus from Queenstown a necessary feat to keep crowds at bay. While the weather is slightly unpredictable, rain means that the mountain's waterfalls will be going off, creating even more features to paddle towards. If you're not up for trying a new sport, there are also many kayaking guides in the area, making the Sound and its beauty accessible to everyone, no matter their physical shape.
3. Snorkeling in St. John's, US Virgin Islands
Few options are as convenient and cost-efficient for Americans as a quick trip to the US Virgin Islands, and equally rare are the options with the unbridled natural spectacle of St. John's. The island, accessible only by ferry, contains the Virgin Islands National Park, which encompasses 2/3 of the island's area. Visitors have over 35 beaches to choose from, including Trunk Bay, which has an underwater snorkeling trail that guides swimmers while informing them of the various species of fish. Other notable snorkeling spots on the isle are Hawknest Bay and Cinnamon Bay, which also has outstanding camping facilities. Sea turtles and rays can be found in Waterlemon Cay, accessible by the Leinster Bay Trail from the Annaberg Sugar Mill ruins.
4. Rollerblading along the "Strand" Los Angeles
Only a handful of locations can provide a pedestrian-only route the length of which is almost a marathon -- and none can do so while providing a view of one of the most beautiful beach areas in the world. "The Strand" is a 22-mile bike path that runs from Will Rogers State Beach in Pacific Palisades, Calif., to Torrance County Beach. The route passes landmarks like the Santa Monica Pier and Venice Beach's infamous boardwalk. If you've seen people rollerblading on TV or in movies, most likely it was filmed along "The Strand." Rental locations and public restrooms pop up almost every half-mile.
5. Hiking in Patagonia, Chile
Visiting Chilean Patagonia, with its more than 2,000 km (1,242 miles) of paths, spectacular vistas, and unique natural phenomena, is a great idea for novice hikers or experienced trekkers alike. Torres del Paine National Park in Southern Chile provides more than 181,000 hectares to explore, with many of the more seasoned hikers choosing the "W Route," which can be broken up into a series of day hikes. VirtualTourist members noted that the highlight of the first leg of the "W" Route is Mirador Las Torres, the iconic four stone peaks so often featured in photographs of the region. If you are looking for another amazing trek in the area, the Fitz Roy Trek just over the border in Argentinean Patagonia is also incredibly beautiful, and thought by many to be a bit easier than the Torres experience.