Don’t let those colorful covers of Backpacker or Climbing lure you into thinking you should step outside your door for a workout. The outdoors are dangerous. They’re dirty, and risky. The mountains will change you in ways you never imagined. As appealing as all those “10 Hikes To Do Before You Die” stories look, it’s best to just stare at them from the magazine rack on your elliptical machine. Here’s why.
1. You might get muscles. Hiking, skiing, mountain biking, climbing—they all have one thing in common. They’ll probably make you stronger. It might start subtly, with a slight soreness in your upper arms and lower back, or a burning sensation in your calves and thighs. But the ultimate result will be—wait for it—muscles. Muscles that bulge underneath yoga pants, may decrease thigh gap and peek out from under tank tops and dresses. So think twice before you head out on the trail, or you could become one of those women who look like they could actually open their own salsa jar.
2. You’d have to learn new skills. Who are you fooling? You’re not in high school anymore. You’re a sensible person who knows your limits. No need to challenge yourself by learning how to change a bike tire or tie a figure-eight knot. Pushing yourself to learn new things might open up possibilities for you to do all sorts of things you never thought you could do. It might make you a smarter person—or at worst, challenge your ego. Now, why would you want to go and do that?
3. You’ll probably get dirty—and worse, smelly. It’s filthy out there. Trails are covered in dust and sometimes mud or horse poop. Unless you want to be clapping dirt clods off your shoes—or worse, wiping them off your face—you’d better stick to your treadmill. Even worse: What if at the end of a day out on your bike, you thought your legs looked beautifully tanned, and then realized as you stepped into the shower that your deep, brown tan was actually just dirt that’s rinsing down the drain?
4. You might get hurt. Nobody wants to wind up in a cast, or worse. But I’m not even talking about the 911-grade injuries you might incur. I’m talking about the random little bruises and scrapes that you’ll find on your legs and arms. I’m talking about black and blue spots from taking diggers on our skis. Raspberries from tipping over on your mountain bike. Worn spots on your shoulders from carrying a heavy backpack. You can kiss your dreams of perfect Tina Turner legs goodbye.
5. You’d have to go to scenic places. The thing about the outdoors is, you have to go there. Sometimes you have to walk down the street to the trail. Sometimes you have to get on your bike and pedal there, or start up your car and drive there. Inspirational Instagram photos of you standing looking out over a beautiful canyon don’t happen unless you actually hike to that canyon. Which. Takes. For. Ever.
6. You might meet and make friends with outdoorsy people. Maybe you’ve seen them around. The ones with bike racks or kayaks on top of their Subarus. The ones whose hair is just a little messier, their Facebook photos a little wilder. If you start going outside to run, climb or bike, they might think you’re one of them. They might try to cheer you on at the climbing gym or ask you to go for a bike ride. So be careful out there, or you’ll find yourself sitting out underneath stars around a campfire with them. And missing your favorite TV show.