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Top 10 outdoor activities for winter Texans

The population of Corpus Christi increases by thousands in the winter. While this might seem odd to an outsider, every Texan knows that this boom can be attributed to retirees that migrate from the north each year. Appropriately deemed “snowbirds”, these winter Texans come here looking for greener – and warmer – winter pastures. Winter Texans contribute to the local economy, donate to local charities, and support the arts in the area; without them the Coastal Bend simply would not be such a great place. One should hope that even more snowbirds will choose the Texas coast, rather than Florida or Arizona, and enjoy the natural beauty that abounds here. The following list encompasses just a few of the outdoor activities popular with senior citizens (and other folks) here in Corpus Christi; with a little luck this will encourage even more retirees to choose Texas for their winter home.

1. Birdwatching. The Coastal Bend is one of the premier birdwatching cities in the country, and Corpus Christi was recently dubbed the nation's “birdiest city” by the National Audubon Society. There is no question that the birds are here, ready to be watched.

Why spy on birds? Birdwatching allows one to choose the level of activity (depending, of course, on where you're headed), and is an opportunity to be outdoors and exercise. It also exercises the mind (distinguishing a savannah sparrow from a vesper sparrow is no joke), and provides a fun alternative to the world of television, computers, and video games.

2. Scavenging for seashells. Scavenging for seashells provides a reason to walk, be outdoors, and – when taken seriously – try to identify species, understand currents, and learn about local marine fauna. Collected shells can be used for various arts and crafts or simply displayed by themselves as décor. These shells aren't hard to find; in fact, because of Gulf currents, Corpus Christi is a mecca for shells, sea beans, and other items that wash in from abroad.

3. Fishing. Let's be honest: fishing is an excuse to be outdoors. It's hard to imagine anything more relaxing than sitting on the beach on a sunny day, waiting for the fish to bite. Fishing licenses are relatively inexpensive, and – assuming the fish are hungry – meals are included.

4. Butterfly watching. This is a relatively new sport, but certainly one that is growing in popularity. Along with birds and seashells, the Coastal Bend – being intermediate between tropical and temperate climes and along a major migratory route – abounds with butterflies. One of the best places to go is the Botanic Gardens, but butterflies can be seen almost anywhere in town, especially around plants that they feed or lay eggs on. Sometimes certain species will migrate through the area by the thousands.

5. Walking. Whether it's by the beach, along the Bay Trail, or in Suter Park, Corpus Christi provides some of the nicest winter walking weather in North America. Studies have shown that taking a short walk each day not only relieves stress, but also can lower the risk of heart attack, diabetes, stroke, and other illnesses.

6. Bicycling. Although bicycling opportunities are somewhat limited in the area, one can find decent trails along Ocean Dr. and Ennis Joslin Rd.. The road leading to Padre Island National Seashore and some of country roads surrounding the city are other popular cycling locales. A personal favorite place to bicycle is around our neighboring town of Port Aransas. This is a terrific way to burn calories, and a fun way to get around!

7. Yoga on the beach. A few local yoga studios offer yoga on the beach classes. This must be one of the most relaxing ways to start the day, plus yoga is great exercise!

8. Boogie boarding. Boogie boarding is like surfing with less danger and quicker learning time. In fact, one can usually ride a pretty good wave on the first try.

9. Gardening. The Coastal Bend is a great place to raise warm-weather fruits, vegetables, and flowers that can't be grown in the north. Themed gardens, which hold native plants that attract birds, butterflies, bats, or other area migrants, are also increasing in popularity in the area due to the astounding number of animals that migrate through the area. Native plants are also easier to grow since they are adapted to the climate and need little extra care.

10. Swimming. The weather is perfect through most of the year for swimming in the bays, lakes, and pools around the area. Swimming is thought to be one of the best forms of exercise since a large portion of the muscles in the body are worked (it especially strengthens the back and stomach muscles), it is an aerobic exercise, and the body's joints don't have to absorb as much pressure and impact as they do during other forms of exercise like jogging.

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