Most people enjoy the change of scenery that comes with moving their workout outside, and it also results in several distinct benefits. Exercising outdoors exposes you to natural light, which helps balance your hormones and provides vitamin D, and the fresh air and natural greenery can also boost your mood and physical well-being. Many exercise routines can be adapted for the outdoors, and there are lots of group and solo activities that are so fun you may even forget you’re working out.
Swimming is probably the first activity that comes to mind when you think of water-based exercises, and it’s an excellent form of aerobic activity that can result in weight loss and stronger muscles. According to the Centers for Disease Control, swimming can also help ward off illness and disease, and it’s a low-impact activity that’s easy on your joints. Other fun water sports to try include rowing, which tones your arms and shoulders, and paddleboarding, which provides a strong core workout. Any of these exercises can be done on your own, but you can also grab your friends to head out for a fun group workout.
Yoga provides a total-body workout that can reduce stress and increase strength and flexibility from the variety of poses that are performed. Practicing yoga outdoors can also deepen the experience, bringing you closer to the natural world and promoting peace and serenity within – all key elements of yoga. Doing yoga poses on the grass or sand without the use of a mat can actually make your muscles work harder due to the uneven surface, adding intensity to your workout.
Team sports are not only a fun way to spend time with your friends, but they also provide an excellent workout, especially if it’s a fast-paced cardio activity. Racing up and down a soccer field or spiking, serving and digging in a game of beach volleyball are both excellent ways to work out as part of a team. MayoClinic.com reports that for a 160-pound person, just one hour of basketball can blast through 580 calories, while volleyball and baseball or softball burn around 300 and 350 calories, respectively.
Hit the Trail
Hiking or jogging outdoors, whether you do it on a paved path in an urban park or a dirt-packed natural trail in the woods, come with a ton of health benefits. Of course you’re getting a great cardiovascular workout from these activities, but getting off the treadmill and heading outside also offers a more strenuous workout due to changing terrain. People use a different stride when they’re outdoors, so other muscles are worked, giving you a more complete workout. If you’re on a trail, the softer surface will also reduce the impact on your joints, lessening your risk for pain and injury. Hiking and jogging outdoors offer a versatile and more challenging workout, and the changing scenery adds to the increased fun factor.
- Idea Health and Fitness Association: Fun & Fresh Air: Time to Go Outside!
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Health Benefits of Water-based Exercise
- Shape: Top 50 Fun Ways to Lose Weight This Spring: Rowing
- Shape: 5 Fun Ways to Burn Fat Without the Gym: Stand-up Paddleboard
- Yoga Journal: Back to Nature: Taking Yoga Outdoors
- MayoClinic.com: Exercise for Weight Loss: Calories Burned in One Hour
- REI: Fitness and Fresh Air: New York Times Report Examines the Benefits of Exercising Outdoors
- Photo Credit BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images