The outdoors provides a variety of ways to work out that aren't available at the local gym or your personal gym. Here are some outdoor exercises you should try.
In the world of convenience food, smartphones, and online video streaming, when it comes time to exercise, it's only natural to want to get outside and breathe in some fresh air. However, if you're new to fitness, you may not know how to exercise in the outdoors.
Don't worry, that's exactly what we're here to talk about. While there's nothing wrong with putting in a good hour or two at your local fitness center pumping iron or getting after it on the elliptical machine, there's something to be said about working out while soaking up some sun.
Keep reading for our top seven suggestions.
1. Go for a Walk
Really? Just walking?
Yes, walking is a great way to exercise in the outdoors and provides many benefits. We certainly don't look down at running or lifting weights, but walking is one of the few exercise options that doesn't increase cortisol production in your body.
While running, lifting weights, and other more intense exercise options aren't bad for you, the stress they place on your body promotes cortisol production in your body, while walking lowers cortisol levels. Additionally, walking is a great way to get outside, soak in some sun, breathe some fresh air and get your body moving.
Take the dog, your kids, or catch up with a friend. Try to walk at a brisk pace for 45 minutes to an hour for maximum results.
2. Run, Sprint, and Jog
If you're too high-speed for walking, that's okay, you can always quicken the pace.
If you're just getting into fitness, we recommend starting off at a slow jog. Don't overdo it, most people feel great for the first few minutes only to tank shortly after if they don't pace themselves. Start slowly and allow yourself some grace to slow to a walk when necessary, you're not trying to set any records here.
Once you've got some jogging-miles under your belt, you can upgrade to more of a run. This is the difference between jogging at a slow pace where you can hold a conversation (albeit, huffing and puffing), and running with enough speed that breathing is the only thing your mouth will be good for.
Finally, when you're ready, you can start incorporating some sprints into your regimen. Sprints are easily one of the best exercises that work both to burn fat and build lean muscle. However, keep a few things in mind about sprints:
- Sprinting is a high-intensity workout, you should be pushing 80-100 percent speed
- Sprinting will make you incredibly sore (for the first few workouts)
- You MUST warm up properly to avoid injuring yourself
- Hills are great for increasing resistance and preventing you from going too fast for your own good (which can lead to tripping, pulling muscles, pounding the pavement too hard, etc.)
3. Go Hiking
If you want to take exercise in the outdoors to its maximum detoxifying potential, do it in the mountains or on a wooded trail. Depending on where you live, you may not have immediate or close access to hiking trails. However, if you take the time, even if only on the weekends, to get out into nature (not just outside), you'll find your workouts to be far more enjoyable.
A few important safety tips first, when applicable:
- Know the area and the local wildlife
- Bring bear spray if necessary
- Consider bringing a workout buddy
- Bring a day hike survival kit in case you get lost off-trail
- Be sure to hydrate properly and bring extra water
- Bring high-calorie snacks for emergencies
4. Do a Full Body Calisthenics Workout
If going clear out to the forest or mountains isn't a realistic way for you to exercise in the outdoors, take a walk (or run) to the nearest park. Here you can get a full-body bodyweight workout in. Benches aren't just made for sitting and playground equipment isn't just made for children.
Use the park benches for triceps dips and step-ups. Get creative with the playground equipment. Practice pull-ups and your obstacle climbing skills.
Then incorporate bodyweight squats, push-ups, sprints, ab crunches, planks, and whatever else you want into your workout. The only limiting factor here is your imagination.
5. Play Ultimate Frisbee
If you're looking for a more organic way to get healthier and happier with exercise in the outdoors, how about picking up a game of ultimate frisbee with some friends? Ultimate frisbee requires running, jumping, sprinting, catching, diving, and more. However, this isn't your only option.
You could also play basketball in some local park courts, tennis, two-hand touch football. If you don't have enough people or the logistics necessary for team sports, take a friend or two and toss around a frisbee or football. You can still incorporate running, jumping, and hustling around.
Depending on where you live and the time of year, swimming outdoors may not be an option. However, if it is, swimming offers one of the most beneficial forms of cardio exercise in the outdoors.
Swimming is a full-body exercise that requires pulling with your arms and kicking with your legs. It's also great for your heart and lungs (assuming you don't swallow a ton of water).
Additionally, swimming offers a low-impact solution for exercise for people who struggle with joint pain or other injuries that may flare up from running, jumping, lifting weights, etc.
If you live near the ocean, make the extra trip to spend the day at the beach, soak up some sun and vitamin D (which you probably need more of) and swim in the biggest swimming pool known to man. Alternatively, if there are any lakes nearby, you go get your feet wet there. Once again, just be aware of local wildlife and always make safety a top priority when swimming in open water.
7. Play Tag with the Kids
Finally, when looking to get some exercise in the outdoors, it helps to incorporate the kids for some exciting family time. For example, we spoke earlier about playing games like ultimate frisbee and two-hand touch football, which could also be fun with the kids.
However, there are few kids alive who don't enjoy a rousing game of tag. You can make it more interesting if you let the dog join in (though they typically don't respect or understand the rules) or add a twist.
For example, you can play Zombie Tag where each person tagged also becomes "it" and joins in the chase. Obviously, the last person tagged, "the survivor", wins and will start the next game as the zombie.
Regardless, the most important thing, especially while playing with the kids, is allowing yourself to be free to rekindle your childlike sense of wonder and fun. Remember, nobody likes a stick in the mud.
Looking for More Help to Exercise in the Outdoors?
If you need more help coming up with options on how to exercise in the outdoors, how to set fitness goals for yourself, and more, be sure to check out the rest of our articles. However, we also offer a wide range of supplements that can help you on your path to health and fitness, no matter what your goals are.
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