Great Outdoor Workouts

Great Outdoor Workouts

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Beach activities require an enormous amount of energy thanks to wind (a natural form of resistance training), temperature (the hotter the weather, the harder your body must work to cool down), and a sandy surface. According to a study in the Journal of Experimental Biology, you exert close to 1.6 times more energy running at the beach than running on harder surfaces.

Working out on the sand is also easier on the joints. Landing on a soft surface increases the collision time and therefore reduces the overall stress placed on your feet and knees, according to a study from Griffith University.

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While yoga was traditionally practiced outside, many yogis now restrict their practice to a studio. Getting back to the natural world is a growing trend in cities such as New York, and can be a great way to get your dose of sunlight for the day. Try a Google search for outdoor yoga classes and you may be surprised how many options you have. If there's nothing available near you, you can always consider a yoga retreat at one of these awesome destinations.

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Outdoor courses can help you develop new skills while getting a great workout. Whether you take a weekend class with the REI Outdoor School or spend a month with the National Outdoor Leadership School in Baja, you'll come home better prepared to hike, paddle, climb or otherwise explore the outdoors.

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Commuting to work can be a more engaging workout than an hour on the stationary bike.

"When you're distracted by the environment, you're less aware of your effort,” said Dr. Robert S. Gotlin, Director of Orthopedic and Sports Rehabilitation at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City.

Bikes, scooters, skateboards and Rollerblades are all convenient and fat-burning methods of getting to work. Because commuting can be sweaty, be sure to have a change of clothes (check out this how-to for more active commute tips).

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Revisit your younger years with a game of capture the flag, hopscotch, leapfrog, jump rope or four square with your friends or your kids. These activities can add another fun element to block parties or barbecues.

City Running Tours

Instead of a bus tour, why not try a running tour? These active sightseeing excursions are popping up around the country and are popular with athletic travelers. It's a great way to see a new city and to meet like-minded people.

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Every summer, many trainers take their fitness classes outdoors. From bootcamps to Zumba, most major cities have options (and some are even FREE!). Use a Google search to find options near you.

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A park bench is a great place for triceps dips and step-ups. For the triceps dip, sit on the bench with your fingertips pointed toward your glutes. Move your body off the bench with your arms straight and lower down until your arms are at a 90-degree angle. Push back up and repeat 15 times. For the hardest version, your legs should be straight with your heels firmly planted on the ground in front of you. You can also do this exercise with bent legs.

To work your legs with step-ups, bring one foot to the top of the bench and slowly bring your body up to meet it. Lower yourself back down slowly on the same leg. Repeat on the other side. This move can be done for three sets of 10 reps.

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From "serious" sports like beach volleyball and soccer to playground games like kickball and dodgeball, recreational leagues provide a fun way to work out and meet new people. If you don't have time for a weekly commitment, consider putting together a pickup game or simply joining one at your nearby beach or park.

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While you can attach a resistance band or TRX kit to a door or a gym machine, they work just as well with a tree or pole outdoors.

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While you may not love jogging, your dog sure does. Channel some of that positive energy by including your pet in your next workout. Consult your physician as well as your dog's veterinarian before beginning an exercise program, and keep in mind that a dog's breed will affect its abilities. While shepherds, terriers and retrievers are built for endurance, other dogs are fit to sprint. Look to the Dog Breed Info Center to find out more. For recommendations on dog workout gear, click here.

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Popular among climbers for improving balance, slacklines work the stabilizing muscles in the body. If you're afraid of heights, don't worry—slacklining doesn't always have to be done thousands of feet above a canyon (though that certainly does increase your incentive to maintain your balance). Most people set them up a couple of feet off the ground between two trees. While you can construct your own for around $50, you can also buy a slackline starter kit.

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Pump up your water workout by swimming against the current. While resistance pools offer the same benefits, the scenery never changes. Swimming in the ocean, you may see fish, starfish, sea cucumbers or other wildlife, depending on where you live. Before diving in, always make sure to check the conditions. If currents are too strong, or if there's a rip tide, you'll want to stick to the pool or try another option on our list.

Great Outdoor Workouts