7 great outdoor exercise ideas to stop you being stuck in a sweaty gym. The sun is shining and the weather is good, so get outside and take in all that free fresh air!
There's no reason to be stuck indoors if the weather is good, even if it's raining then most of these can still be enjoyed with the right gear.
The great outdoors offers free fresh air, and according to the Journal of Environmental Psychology it's far more vitalising than exercising indoors.
If you're stuck in the same old routine going to the gym working out next to sweaty old Keith every morning on the same treadmill, then here are my favourite outdoor exercise ideas to give you inspiration. Here's a quick overview of some of the exercises and their benefits that I'll be writing about:
- Outdoor Swimming
- Skipping (it's not just for girls with pigtails!)
Plain old walking
Walking is something that the majority of us are fortunate enough to do, and something we take for granted, especially when trying to think of ways to lose a bit of weight. This ability most of us who have had since around the age of 1 or 2, can really help us to burn off some extra calories if we focus on doing a bit more of it.
Many people don't realise how many walking clubs there are around, and it's even a sport at the Olympics and has been since 1904!
Walking an extra 30 minutes a day in total can really help burn off extra calories, and if you reduce your calorie intake just a little, throughout a month this will soon add up to a serious amount of extra calories used, therefore resulting to weight loss.
Benefits of walking in the outdoors
As well as burning off those extra pounds, walking can help to;
- Improve your mood
- Maintain your weight
- Help reduce blood pressure
- Tone your bum (or fanny if you're from the US)
- Strengthen your muscles and bones
- Lower the impact on the body compared to running or jogging
So lace up your trainers and take a stroll around the block or find a nice green and leafy park to have a brisk walk around.
Jogging or running
This is probably my least favourite on the list, I really don't like running, it's bores the hell out of me these days especially since I found different exercises to do. However, for some, it's an amazing release of endorphins that they can't do without on a regular basis. I used to run with a club, and while the members and social side of it is great, the running just got too tedious for me.
Running can also be hard on the knees, so I would advise to find a park and run on the grass, especially if you're starting out. Concrete and tarmac don't absorb the shock, but the grass is a little more forgiving.
If you've never run further than the end of the street, then taking it easy is the best advice. There are many running clubs in the UK and USA that offers beginners training. There's a lot more to running than just running, especially when you get into it. Here's a list of running clubs in your area.
A starter run will also help you meet other beginners of a similar ability and goals, so you won't get left behind if you need to stop and gasp for air after 30 metres. A local club to me is the DK Running club, they offer great advice for people looking to start running.
Benefits of running:
- Improves cardiovascular endurance
- Can improve your resting heart rate
- If you join a club there are usually great member benefits
- Huge release of endorphins after a run
- Can be addictive!
- Burn up to 900 calories per hour
- May increase your metabolic rate
Although running is undoubtedly good for your heart, it is a high impact exercise, and running long distances can put undue stresses on the joints. Many beginners think that running will get them into that dream shape they've been hoping for, but you will still need to combine this with strength training and a good diet to get a lean body shape.
Taking a trip to the mountains and going camping is just a great way to experience the outdoors, and something I can't wait to experience with my little boy. For me the nearest real mountain range is only a couple of hours away in the beautiful Snowdonia National Park in Wales.
You don't have to find a mountain to be able to go Hiking or Rambling though. There are hundreds of Ramblers societies throughout the country and with walks arranged almost everyday, this is an incredible way of taking in some stunning scenery and fresh air in abundance.
You'll need a good pair of solid shoes for Hiking, and you can invest in a good pair for as little as around £30 ($45 USD) from most major sports retailers. If you're serious about it, then you can spend a lot more!
Don't forget your waterproofs though, especially in Wales!
Benefits of Hiking or Rambling
- The fresh air
- Stunning scenery that you wouldn't normally see from the car
- Improved mood
- Lower blood pressure
- Greatly strengthen and tone muscles, especially thighs and calves.
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Open Water Swimming
Swimming doesn't just mean going to a chlorine filled pool with the kids splashing about either side of you while trying to do lengths. You can take this outdoors and believe me, whatever the weather, there is a group somewhere who will be swimming in open water. Yep, even in the ice.
Swimming.org advise to be a strong pool swimmer which will make the transition to open water swimming a little easier. Also, never start out on your own, always swim with a buddy or in a group.
Jumping into cold open water frequently can have a huge benefit on your immune system. A study was done on cold water bathers while keeping tabs on their immune system and found that their white blood cell count increased significantly (these help your immune system). So while it might not be comfortable jumping in for the first time, you're doing your body a great service.
Needless to say, cold water is very invigorating and makes you feel a lot fresher and alert when you're dried off!
Triathletes train frequently in lakes, lochs or the sea depending on their location. A thermal swimsuit is ideal if you're thinking of training in the winter months too.
Benefits of open water swimming
- Improve your immune system
- Explore new places to swim
- A good excuse for a trip to the beach
- Swimming is good for cardiovascular system
- Build stronger arms, shoulders and back
Cycling the great outdoors
Whether you love or hate cyclists on the road when you're driving, one thing for sure is it's definitley a great way to get in shape. For me, I prefer the off road cycling through the rough terrain of the woodlands rather than riding down a country lane, dressed like Spiderman in spandex. (Why do amateur cyclists insist on showing us their inner most places while wearing spandex? Answer in the comments please!)
You don't need any fancy gear to start cycling, just some trainers/sneakers a pair of shorts, tee and a helmet if you prefer. A bicycle would help too of course. If you really want to get into it, then go ahead and get yourslef a nice Lycra suit.
You can choose the pace and intensity in which you cycle, which makes it great for all abilities. It's also a low impact exercise which means it won't hammer your joints like running will.
The other great thing with cycling outdoors is that you can cover a great amount of distance, and many people I know even cycle to work to beat the rush hour traffic. (Although city cycling is proven to give you a higher intake of Carbon Dioxide, heavy breathing + car pollution = lungs full of crap!)
Benefits of cycling
- Low impact on joints
- Improves your posture
- You can choose what intensity to go at
- Fun way to get in shape
- Sociable, a group ride can be very pleasant
- Cover long distances - more secnery to take in!
- Excellent aerobic exercise
The city of London and many other places are now have bike hire schemes that you can pick up a bike and drop it off elsewhere. Why not try one day a week to start with to blow the dust off and start getting into shape?
Bootcamps - HIIT
Bootcamp workouts are becoming a great outdoor exercise idea and more and more popular these days, and for good reason. These HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts off a huge burn off of calories in a much shorter space of time than say running.
It's because of this intensity while working out that means you'll keep burning those calories for the rest of the day while your muscles recover.
Many bootcamps offer their training outdoors because of the advantage of working in the fresh air. Bear in mind though that these will still take place no matter what the weather! I started bootcamp in February, and most of the first sessions were in 2-3 feet of snow.
Bootcamp workouts usually consist of a variation of circuits, sprints and strength training all combined. If you find a good class, then you'll very rarely do the same routine more than once. The bootcamp I attend runs 3 days every week and has a huge variety of equipment.
When you hear the word "bootcamp" you may get this image in mind (above) but it's really not the case. Most people join bootcamps because they want to be pushed a little or a lot out of their comfort zone, and in a group environment, nt being screamed and shouted at.
Skipping with a jump rope
One thing for sure is that you don't need pigtails to start skipping. It's not just for little girls in the playground or schoolyard, skipping is an exercise done by the toughest of athletes.
One sport in particular known for skipping drills is Boxing. With their explosive power and stamina required, skipping helps build those skills.
Bone density improvement
Skipping is low impact exercise, studies have shown there there is little impact on the major joints and is proven to help increase bone density, and can result in preventing bone issues such as osteoperosis.
It's a great exercise for the older generation to do too where joint issues may already exist. Skipping can burn around 12-16 calories every minute, with 30 minutes of skipping burning off a staggering 480 calories!
This is a great outdoor exercise as many jump ropes may be too long for people indoors with low ceilings or not much room. Even getting out into the garden will give you boost of much needed fresh air!
You always take it to the park and mix it up with a few sprints or laps of the local lake if you're feeling particularly energetic!
Benefits of skipping with a jump rope
- Increase bone density
- Burn off an amazing amount of calories
- Low impact exercise
- Prevent osteoperosis
- Can help those with joint issues already
- Burn off unwanted fat!
Go outdoors, get some fresh air!
So there we have it, 7 great outdoor exercise ideas to get you going. It's really easy for us to get stuck in a routine, so making the effort to get outside really will make you feel so much better.
I prefer exercise when it's a bit cooler or in a nice cool drizzle of rain, these hot summer days have been tough when working out, but I still prefer that to a sweaty or air conditioned gym which can make my nose a bit stuffy.