A fun way to get into shape is to do it outdoors, especially since Winter is done. There are plenty of things to do in the warmer months that can help you stay (or get in even better) shape while adding some serious adventure to the mix.
One of the simplest ways to get fit outdoors is to take a walk; research shows that brisk walking on a regular basis can improve the health of your heart, lungs and circulatory system; reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes; and help you maintain a healthy weight. Walking is also a low-impact exercise, so it’s easy on the joints and muscles. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), just 10 minutes of brisk walking, three times a day for five days a week (for a total of 150 minutes per week) is enough to improve your aerobic health.
Like walking, running helps improve your cardiovascular fitness. If you chose to run rather than walk, you don’t need to exercise for quite as long. According to the most recent physical activity guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), adults can do 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity, such as running, to get the same benefits as 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity.
Swimming is another good way to improve your aerobic fitness, and it offers health benefits similar to those of walking and running. What’s more, because swimming is easy on your muscles and joints, you may be able to exercise for longer in the water than you could on land without increased muscle or joint pain, according to the CDC. Swimming may be particularly good for older adults, as it may help strengthen core muscles and reduce the risk of falls, one study found. In addition, swimming may help people with arthritis increase the use of their joints without worsening their symptoms, the CDC says.
Hiking not only gives you an aerobic workout, but it may also be good for your mental health; a number of studies suggest that spending time in nature reduces stress levels and negative thinking. What’s more, if you don’t have time to work out during the week, a long hike or two on the weekend may offer health benefits similar to those seen in people who exercise more frequently, according to a recent study.
Cycling is another low-impact exercise that provides health benefits but is easy on your muscles and joints. And studies suggest that even a little biking can help people avoid weight gain. Although men may have concerns about how cycling could affect their fertility or sexual function, a recent study found no link between cycling and infertility or erectile dysfunction. Biking may even be good for your mental health, with some studies finding that cycling to work is linked with better well-being than driving to work.
This sport has become somewhat of a trend in recent years, which explains why the U.S. reached a total of 353 commercial indoor climbing facilities back in December. While it’s pretty cool to be able to practice at a gym just down the street, it’s hard to beat the scenery you’ll encounter on a real cliff. Instead of exercising and then figuring out what to do with the rest of your Saturday, you can turn your workout into a complete experience.
Scaling walls is a great choice for guys who don’t enjoy traditional cardio workouts, because it’s far from boring and also a surprisingly good way to get your heart pumping. According to a small study from The University of Wisconsin, subjects who rock climbed as a form of exercise met the American College of Sports Medicine’s guidelines for physical activity. To keep your heart rate elevated the whole time, try to keep your rest periods short. As for the burn, SparkPeople’s calorie calculator indicated a 175-pound person can shed 833 calories for one hour of effort.
If you’ve never given outdoor climbing a shot, it’s not as difficult as you might think. Sign up for an afternoon with a nearby climbing school or individual guide. They’ll teach you everything you need to know about safety and basic techniques.
Every kid had a favorite outdoor sport at summer camp. For some it was capture the flag, while others went crazy for canoeing. If you were in the latter group, kayaking could become your new favorite workout. Though it won’t slim your waist quite as impressively as some other types of exercise, Harvard Medical School reported a 185-pound person can still expect to burn 222 calories for a 30-minute effort. If you take the time to head out and get all the gear, it’s likely you’ll go for much longer.
Men’s Journal particularly likes kayaking as a workout since it’s so good at strengthening your arms. And like any other type of cardio, you can easily turn a kayaking session into an interval session. It’s also an excellent choice for guys who are prone to leg injuries from running or other forms of high-impact cardio, because your legs won’t suffer the same pounding.
Even the most dedicated runners can get bored with their choice of exercise, and a lot of it has to do with the monotony of the treadmill or heading for the same few routes every time. Hitting a trail is a great way to get a change of scenery while boosting your effort. According to Mayo Clinic, a 160-pound person burns about 606 calories after running 5 miles in an hour. Taking the same workout to a path will actually lead to an even better result thanks to the frequent hills. According to Active.com, your calorie burn increases 10% for each degree increase in incline. Running hills is also one of the best ways to target your glutes, so hitting the trails could help you get a better butt.
Though many people worry about hurting themselves on uneven ground, trails are actually a better choice for those prone to injuries. Runner’s World explained the softer terrain is gentler on problem areas like your IT bands and shins. You may occasionally run into some ruts or rocks, though, so you definitely need to stay aware of your surroundings.
Stand-up paddleboardinging (SUP) is an amazing way to tone your whole body without feeling like you’re exercising (Because it’s fun, but it’s not so easy.) Standing on an oversized long board, you use a paddle to navigate across flat, calm waters. Don’t be fooled by how easy it looks. SUP requires the use of your entire body, with a major emphasis on core stability and control. Former pro surfer Jodi Nelson describes it as “hiking on water,” making it a great choice for anyone who wants to add some water to their workout routine without having to swim in it.
Playing basketball is one of the best all-around workouts you can get. Shooting hoops works your calves, thighs, and core, all while building stamina as you hustle up and down the court—so grab some friends for a little two-on-two or three-on-three ball.
A casual game of doubles tennis burns calories and increases agility according the the United States Tennis Association.
Surfing is moderately aerobic: You are moving large muscle groups enough to elevate your oxygen consumption during the paddling portions, and also while carrying your board up the beach, running out into the surf, and to some extent while shifting your weight on the board. It’s also a great core workout.
Scuba Diving or Snorkeling
A low-impact workout, diving tones your entire body through constant resistance provided by the water and can burn more than 500 calories during a single dive, says Brad Johnson, Ph.D., a fitness and wellness expert and author of Scared Skinny No More. Even better, research from the National Institutes of Health and University Hospital, Uppsala in Sweden has shown scuba’s deep-breathing technique can lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and even boost lung function. You use these functions in Snorkeling also.
One of the best things about yoga is the ability to take your workout anywhere, and as the weather warms up, “anywhere” more specifically means outside. (It’s way better than being stuck in a smelly, hot gym for an hour.) We’re talking’ mountaintops, beaches, parks, your own backyard, you name it.
With the ability to coast with the wheels on Rollerblades, the aerobic benefits from Rollerblading isn’t quite as good as running. However, Rollerblading is still a better aerobic workout than cycling. Similar to burning calories, you can increase the aerobic benefits by skating uphill or at a faster pace.
Not only is beach volleyball fun, but it’s an excellent workout. Read on for three reasons why you should try beach volleyball!
3 Reasons Why Beach Volleyball Is a Good Workout
- It burns calories. Because you’re in the sand, which is an unstable surface that’s harder to move in than on grass or concrete, an hour-long game of beach volleyball burns quite a few calories. From all the running, jumping and diving, you can expect to burn 484 calories an hour.
- It’s a full-body workout. Beach volleyball uses every part of your body. You use your arms, shoulders and chest to bump, spike and serve the volleyball; you use your legs to run through that sand and squat down to reach the volleyball; and you use your core to stay balanced while you do all that. Beach volleyball is truly a full-body workout!
- It doesn’t feel like “working out.” This is perhaps the best reason of all! Because you’re so focused on the beach volleyball game and getting to the ball, you forget about how hard you’re working or how many minutes you’ve been playing. It’s a game, and it’s easy to play for more than an hour without even realizing it!
There are many ways to be outside, have fun, and at the same time get in great shape!
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