When it comes to working out, why not head outside?
After a gray, gloomy and uniquely isolating winter, we’re all looking forward to exploring the great outdoors again. Now that the weather is warm – and more and more people are getting vaccinated – heading outside for a fun, free workout is an excellent choice.
These are some of the best outdoor workouts. Try one, or all, this spring, summer and fall.
Note: Due to the ever-changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, please see official websites before visiting to check for restrictions or closures.
Benefits of Outdoor Workouts
Adults should do about 150 minutes, or 2.5 hours, of moderate to intense aerobic activity per week, according to the American Heart Association. This can also be broken down as 30 minutes of exercise five days a week.
Right now, exercising outdoors is safer than going to the gym, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it saves money, too.
Exercising outside also allows for access to fresh air and sunshine. While you don’t want to spend too much time in the sun’s harmful UV rays, some sunshine in moderation is good for you. Vitamin D can help your sleep cycle and mood as well as lower your risk of Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and pancreatic and breast cancer, according to Hartford HealthCare.
Activities that raise your heart rate are good for your body, but there’s something to be said about the mental and emotional boost that results from getting out of the house as well.
There is also more variety outdoors, as different locations allow for different types of exercises to help you reach your goals. If you are looking for the best outdoor workouts for weight loss, you can get an idea of how many calories different types of activities can burn with this chart from the Mayo Clinic.
Going for a walk or jog is one of the easiest forms of outdoor exercise.
Walking can help lower your cholesterol, blood pressure, risk of diabetes, obesity, vascular stiffness, inflammation and mental stress, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
Keep things interesting by listening to music/podcasts or mixing in some walking lunges, butt kicks and/or going backwards.
You can always carry weights or include hilly terrain to burn more calories.
Hiking gets your heart pumping. It can also help reduce your risk of hearth disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, anxiety, osteoporosis and arthritis, according to the American Hiking Society.
The psychical benefits of hiking are rewarding – as are the mental and emotional benefits of being in the great outdoors and working your way toward scenic views.
Like other aerobic workouts, biking is good for your heart and muscles. What’s more, cycling is easy on your joints, can help improve balance and the resistance of pedaling strengthens bones, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
If you’re new to biking, look into the different types of bikes and choose the right one for you. Start easy and work your way up to more challenging trails to burn more calories.
AAA Northeast members receive free bicycle service along with their 24-hour roadside assistance. If your bicycle breaks down while you’re out for a ride, call 1-800-AAA-HELP.
Many people enjoy yoga for its relaxing and mood-boosting benefits. The deep breathing and meditative practices of yoga can even aid in coping with anxiety and depression, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
When it comes to physical health, yoga helps improve balance, flexibility and strength, too.
If you are interested in outdoor workout classes, yoga is a great option. Check for outdoor, socially distanced yoga classes near you. To try outdoor yoga on your own, simply roll out your yoga mat on the back porch or a flat area on the lawn and follow an instructional video on your preferred device.
Choose from 2,500 workout videos with the Active&Fit Direct ™ Program.
Exercise outside and feel like a kid again by strapping on a pair of skates.
Rollerblading strengthens your core, glutes and legs while burning a decent amount of calories – 600 calories per hour, according to Roller Skating Association International. It’s also less jarring to your joints compared to running.
Don’t forget to wear a helmet and knee pads. Consider wrist pads as well if you’re new to skating or it’s been a while since you rollerbladed last.
Inline skating is permitted on a number of paved walking trails.
If you live near a river, lake or ocean, there’s an opportunity to exercise on the water as well.
Canoeing, kayaking and rowing are good workouts for your arms and back muscles while stand-up paddle boarding and surfing are great for your core strength and balance.
Swimming is a full-body workout that burns a lot of calories. “A gentle swim can burn over 200 calories in just half an hour, more than double that of walking,” according to Swimming.org. It’s also gentle on your joints and a fun, relaxing activity for many.
Some may argue that the best outdoor workouts are at the beach.
Running on the beach, or doing sand sprints, can be more effective than running on hard surfaces.
“Studies have shown that running on the beach – especially on soft, dry sand that’s typically found farther from the water’s edge – will likely lower your odds of impact-associated overuse injuries,” according to Runner’s World. Also, “running on sand forces your body to work at least 10% harder than it does on grass.”
One drawback is the risk of ankle sprains and tendinopathy, so keep your limitations in mind.
You can also try yoga, stretches and other activates on the beach for a change of scenery.
With the Kids
Focusing on play makes exercise feel like less of a chore. It’s also a great way to keep yourself and the kids active, especially when school is out for the summer
Make an obstacle course or plan a scavenger hunt that requires different stretches and exercises, like a mix of burpees, crunches, long jumps, lunges, push-ups, squats, etc.
Play sports and other outside games, such as throwing around a ball/frisbee, jumping rope and playing tag. Find more fun games to play with kids, here.
Or, head to a park or playground to exercise. Some parks, like these around NYC, offer outdoor workout equipment.
Need new workout gear? AAA members can get exclusive discounts at Reebok Outlet stores.
Make sure to stay extra hydrated when exercising outside, especially on hot days. Also, consider sun protection for your skin and eyes along with pest repellant if you’re prone to bug bites. When exercising outdoors, bring a spare mask in case you come across crowds on trails, at a park or the beach.
The major drawback to outdoor workouts is the chance of inclement weather. If you can’t get outside to exercise, check out these 10 Indoor Workouts to Stay Fit and Boost Immunity and these 8 Easy Indoor Senior Workouts.
No matter what type of exercise you prefer or have time for, you can track your fitness with wearables and apps.
What’s your favorite outdoor workout? Tell us in the comments.
Any new exercise routines should be approached with caution. Consider your physical limitations and always consult your doctor(s).