5 Fun Outdoor Exercises for Beginners to Try This Summer
Are you ready to get outside this summer? Of course you are—it’s been a long winter (a long year, really), and it seems like warm weather is taking forever to get here. If you are like most Americans, you are a bit out of shape this year and are looking for some easy outdoor activities to ease yourself back into the action. Whether you’re just looking to stretch your legs, lose a little weight, or make a meaningful lifestyle change, we have some beginner-friendly outdoor activities to try this season.
1. Trail Walking & Running
Walking or running along a trail is a great way to connect with nature while getting into shape. Hiking builds strong muscles, improves your sense of balance, improves your heart health, and decreases your risk of certain breathing problems, according to the National Parks Service.
Running along a trail can be tricky, though, and cause lower back pain, sprained ankles, runner’s knee, cramps, and plantar fasciitis—a painful condition that affects the tough band of tissue on the bottom of your foot that runs from your toes to your heel. To reduce your risk of injury, keep your eyes on the trail and slow down or shift gears as necessary. To avoid overexerting yourself, be mindful of how long you have been on the trail every time you go out.
2. Park Workouts
Working out in an outdoor park is a fantastic alternative to exercising in a stuffy gym. Park workouts are free, usually available any time of night or day, and are free of charge. You can do a wide variety of exercises, such as pull-ups, squats, lunges, and burpees that give your arms, chest, thighs, calves, buttocks, and hip flexors a real workout.
3. Outdoor Yoga
Practicing outdoors adds an entirely new dimension to yoga. Feeling the sun’s rays on your skin, breathing fresh air, and absorbing the beautiful scenery can replenish depleted energy, awaken your senses, and boost the benefits of meditation. Practicing asana or meditation outside is akin to “forest bathing,” an increasingly popular nature activity in Japan that restores well-being, energy, and balance. Spending time outdoors triggers your body’s production of provides exposure to natural compounds, known as phytoncides, which lowers adrenaline levels and decreases blood pressure. For best results, practice mindfulness as a part of your yoga practice.
Practicing yoga outdoors may have its pitfalls, though, as uneven terrain, litter, or garbage can increase the risk of ankle sprains or other dangers. Wind, sun, and insects can ruin your meditation or cause skin irritation.
4. Bodyweight & HIIT Workouts
Bodyweight and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts are perfect outdoor activities because they provide a great cardio and strength workout without the need for equipment. You can do bodyweight/HIIT exercises anywhere. These exercises can include:
- High Knees
- Crabby Crawl Out
- Squat to High Kick
- Grass Grabbers
- Yogi Push-ups
- Burpee to Lateral Jump Squat
- Walking Lunges
- Single Leg Bicycles
- Push-up to Twist
- Sumo Squat Hold With Oblique Crunch
- Plank Hold
To get the most out of your bodyweight or HIIT exercises, perform them with as much intensity as possible while maintaining good form.
5. Stand-up Paddleboarding
Stand-up paddleboarding is the perfect whole-body workout for a hot summer day. Simply stand on the oversized longboard and use a paddle to navigate across calm waters. Sounds easy, right? It’s not! While it may seem serene, stand-up paddleboarding requires the use of the entire body, and focuses on core control and stability.
Safety Considerations for Outdoor Exercise
Exercising outdoors is so much fun that it may tempt you into overdoing it. This is especially true for beginners who have not yet built up the strength or endurance to avoid injuries, or who have chronic conditions that affect their performance. To help reduce your risk for injury, choose your form of exercise carefully, start slowly, and work your way up. Consult with a trainer, physical therapist, or other health professional to ensure you are healthy enough for exercise and that you are using proper form. Diversify your outdoor workouts, warm up properly, stay hydrated, and cool down.
Many beginners benefit from light therapy, also known as photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT). Light therapy uses the energy of red light wavelengths to trigger beneficial changes in the human body. While health and wellness professionals often administer light therapy to promote healing, this state-of-the-art treatment can also prevent injuries. PBMT before working out widens blood vessels to improve blood flow to muscles and other organs during exercise. Light therapy can also reduce inflammation, alleviate pain, and promote healing for injuries that may interfere with your plans to exercise outdoors. For more information about preventing injury while exercising outdoors this summer, consult with your doctor, physical therapist, trainer, or light therapy provider.