If you read my post earlier this month about the mind-blowing benefits of time spent outdoors then you know that outdoor exercise has incredible benefits! You might be wondering what there is to do outside if you aren’t a marathon runner. Well, let me tell you… there is plenty to do. There is something for every fitness level and season!
So you’re just starting out. Maybe you’re recovering from an injury or have been on hiatus from exercise for a while. Or, perhaps you’ve never really exercised to begin with. No worries! Outdoor exercise is the cheapest, easiest and best way to get started!
We can all enjoy a nice walk in the great outdoors! For bonus benefits head to a park or other green space! Having beautiful scenic views instead of buildings and concrete offers additional benefits! Get your family a friend or your dog in on your new adventure to create accountability!
I know… this one doesn’t even seem like an actual work out! Believe me it is! all of that bending and stooping. Hauling debris or harvest away. Gardening is an excellent work out. Not only is it great as a form of exercise but you also reap the benefits of fresh produce, beautiful surroundings or both! And if you get your kids in on growing produce, they WILL eat it! Kid’s love to eat things they’ve grown with their own little hands! Gardening is so incredibly good for you that it deserves it’s own post. Keep an eye out for that next week!
Outdoor games / Playing with kids
There’s nothing like a fun game of frisbee (or frisbee golf) or good old fashioned tag. Once you get started the time will fly (it does that when you’re having fun)! No reason to make plans or buy equipment. Grab a ball or what ever you have on hand. Don’t have a thing… that’s ok too. If you aren’t up for tag yet take on a fun game of “mother may I”, “red light, green light” or “capture the flag”. And, there’s nothing quite as fun as organizing a neighborhood scavenger hunt for grown ups!
Now, by this I don’t mean swimming laps. I just mean playing in the water. Water resistance offers tremendous benefits by helping to condition muscles and preventing impact. Just padling around with a pool noodle or kick board is a great way to get some exercise in! You can always include your kids and play games like “marco, polo” to get in some extra fun!
Golf with cart
Golf actually burns a shocking number of calories (even with a cart)! I put it in the beginner category though because you don’t have to be in great shape to do it. There’s a lot of walking on challenging terrain in golf. Additionally, no matter how great you are, the swinging provides you with core and upper body exercise.
This is basically just walking on top of the snow. It isn’t that difficult to do and it’s a great way to get in exercise in the winter without having to worry about slipping on icy concrete. I suggest that if you want to take up snowshoeing you get shoes (with poles) and gaters (to keep the snow out of your boots) and dress in layers. You’ll be working up a sweat in no time! Don’t want to buy equipment before you know if you like it or not? No problem, call ski places near you and inquire about snowshoe rentals. They are fairly common!
Build a snowman
You might remember that building a snowman is fun. It’s unlikely that you remember that it’s a good work out! That’s how things are when you’re a kid… you barely notice or a parent helps with the heavy lifting! Well.. get ready for some heavy lifting! It isn’t easy to roll that ball around your yard or to stack them on top of each other! Don’t believe me… give it a shot this winter! I hope to see my instagram, twitter and facebook filled with your snowman pictures! Don’t forget to tag me #upcycledadultingsnowman
Snowball fights offer cardio and toning of every kind! They are an all over work out that rivals hard core HIIT! The nice thing is that they are fun and you can take it a the pace you’re comfortable with!
Nordic pole walking
So, when this trend started my husband was beyond confused about why people would need walking sticks to navigate the sidewalk. That’s not really how it works! Adding walking poles to your walk converts it from a lower body work out to a full body work out. For greatest reward, least risk this is hands down the BEST workout you can do! Did I really say that… YES! It is low impact with navigable terrain so you’re unlikely to trip or to suffer joint or bladder strain. The addition of the poles creates core and upper body involvement and this increases exertion. Not to mention calorie burn!
Kayaking / Canoeing
I LOVE my inflatable kayak because I can take it anywhere and it is SUPER easy to inflate and deflate! Kayaking is pretty simple and can be done alone or in tandem. If you go with an inflatable kayak your gear is lightweight and easy to transport. Kayaking is a super fun way to get a workout in!
Canoeing generally requires a partner. Sure you can go out alone but canoes are usually cumbersome and difficult to steer alone. That being said, canoeing is also a fun way to get a workout in.
Have you ever considered joining a team? Whether it’s a group sport or something more individual like tennis being part of a team gives you automatic accountability. Playing organized sports also makes you push yourself harder. Competition and comradery can be seriously motivating!
Tennis is tough! I’m not going to lie! There’s a whole lot of running and swinging involved! That being said, you can take tennis at your own pace by finding a partner who you are equally matched to. If you’ve never played before, taking tennis lessons is a great way to get a workout without quite so much sprinting!
Remember those poles you bought for Nordic walking? Well, get them back out! Walking trails in the woods gives you additional benefits to walking on city sidewalk. Not only because of the terrain but there are many health perks related to being surrounded by nature!
I love yoga! Yoga outdoors is on a whole different level though! I highly recommend doing it on a mat on a flat surface before trying it on grass! If you can hold those poses with all of the natural distractions you’ll face, you’re a REAL yogi! Trying to keep your balance and breath while a parade of ants traipses across your foot is no joke! Seriously though, yoga is good for your soul and yoga outside is doubly good so give it a shot!
Is there anything more freeing than cycling? The feeling of the wind on your face and the rhythm of the pedaling. Can you tell, I love it! Cycling is a great way to run errands! I love to hop on my bike and head to the grocery store. I have a bag fixture on my bike but you could also get a basket or use a backpack. Just make sure that you are wearing the proper safety gear (helmet, lights, reflectors), and that you know the cycle laws in your state. And, don’t assume that drivers know the cycle laws! Always keep an eye out for them because often they won’t see you first.
Golf without cart
Whether you get a hand cart at the course or have a backpack golf bag this adds a whole new dimension of difficulty to golfing. For those of you who don’t know, walking a golf course is at least 4 miles. Even if you have a hand cart, golf clubs are heavy to lug around. All of that being said, golf courses tend to be breathtakingly beautiful and you miss a lot from the cart. A leisurely day of walking golf is an amazing exercise option!
If you get out a shovel and do this the old fashioned way it’s a serious work out! This might actually belong in the advanced category depending on how much snow you have and how dense it is! Just like that, I lost all of the warm weather dwellers who had no idea there’s varying density!
Hey! Don’t toss your snowshoes ! As your work out stamina increases head out onto trails in the woods. Enjoy some snowshoe hiking! Varying terrain will add to the intensity of this workout! And heading into the woods will give you an opportunity to clear your mind completely! There’s nothing like being immersed in nature. Even in the winter!
Cross country skiing
Cross country skiing has AMAZING health benefits! So don’t be afraid to hit the trails! If you’re just starting out I highly recommend that you head to some groomed trails with your skis. Most downhill ski facilities also have cross country trails. You can check google for more options near you. Trails that aren’t groomed take a lot more experience and pristine conditions. The snow has to be just right so you aren’t sinking in a foot.
My Instagram is blowing up with pictures of paddle boarding! It seems to be one of the biggest health trends out there now! I have to admit, I’ve tried it myself and it’s a lot harder than it looks. Paddle boarding is a great full body workout (and incredible for your core). I have an inflatable paddle board so I can take it anywhere. I have to be VERY precise with how much it’s inflated though or I can’t stand on it. Keep in mind that it is easiest to learn to paddle board on a pretty serene lake. You can also get a detachable seat and a kayak paddle for your board so if you get tired you can just sit down and use it like a kayak.
Mulch / Landscape archeticture
I once built a retaining wall in my garden and it was probably one of the hardest workouts I’ve ever done. The same is true of chopping and stacking wood. Spreading mulch or top soil by hand also fits in this category. Laborious yardwork and gardening projects absolutely count as an intense work out!
Lap swimming is often touted as the best exercise you can do. I personally can’t swim well enough to do it. If you can though and you have access to a place to do it (preferably an outdoor saline pool), you GO! The cardiovascular and resistance training benefits combined are unreal. With zero impact and very little chance of injury, this is the perfect athletic activity! Even if you need to start with a life jacket of some sort it’s worthwhile to give this a shot!
Running / jogging
You knew it was coming! I’d like to stop talking about jogging and running like they are real exercise expectations for people who have never worked out. I’m sorry, I know that people have done the whole couch to 5k thing but FAR more have suffered stress fractures and been injured trying. Running is something you work up to. Having a running team or partner or just finding someone who’s done it for many years is tremendously beneficial. It isn’t just putting on shoes and running (like Forrest). There’s a lot to it. Spend some time learning about proper running shoes and technique!
Rock climbing / terrain hiking
When you get off of the hiking trails you start dealing with significant terrain challenges. This is an excellent way to get a very challenging work out in. I suggest you do this with a partner or group and be sure to have taken all of the safety classes related to climbing if that is part of your hike. I also can’t say enough about no trace behavior in these situations. Be cautious about animal habitats and don’t remove or leave any items!
Off trail cross country skiing
When you get off of those groomed trails cross country skiing is a completely different thing! Now, you are still on trails but since they aren’t groomed the conditions are more challenging. This is an incredible way to add some additional work to your work out! Again, dress in layers and be prepared to work up a sweat!
Snowshoe hiking (off trail)
While it’s more difficult to no trail snow shoe than hike it is possible. Stick with a route you know pretty well. Remember the terrain will be more difficult to navigate with snow shoes and weather conditions. And, don’t forget to take a buddy.
Get Out There!
No matter what the season or your fitness level it is completely possible to get in a great outdoor workout! One of the best things about it is that you also get all of the nature benefits. And in a lot of cases it’s FREE! No need for an expensive gym membership! If you’re concerned about who’s going to watch the kids, don’t be… pick something the whole family can do together!
What is your favorite outdoor activity or work out? I know that I couldn’t have possibly named them all… what did I miss?