You’ve spent all winter working out in a gym. It’s time to get outside. Now that spring has officially sprung, use the warm sunshine as an opportunity to bust out of the gym to get your workout before the blazing heat of summer forces you back into the air conditioning. There are tons of ways to spend time outside and still get your heart rate up and your muscles moving. Get on your bike, on the court or on a mountain. Just get out there. Here are some of the best ways to work out outdoors and how they’re going to help you get to your goals while you soak in the sunshine.
Ride Your Bike
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of the sun on your face and the wind whipping through your hair – under a helmet, of course. Getting out for a ride on your bike is a great way to get a workout, clear your mind and soak up some much needed vitamin D.
Hop on your bike and, if you pedal hard enough, you could get a great aerobic workout, build muscle, increase bone density and even improve your ability to perform everyday activities, according to the Harvard Medical School. It’s also easy on the joints, so you’re not putting them through as much stress as you would if you were jogging on asphalt.
You don’t need to be a Tour de France super cyclist to enjoy yourself and get a good workout on your bike. Push yourself to tackle a new hill, ride a little faster on those straight, wide open stretches of trail or even go off road and try mountain biking. Just be careful of traffic, wear your helmet and keep in mind all of the basic safety stuff you were taught when you were first learning to ride.
Take A Hike
Take this one literally and figuratively. Literally in the sense that you should absolutely get outside and go on a hike. Figuratively in the sense that finding a great hiking spot is the perfect excuse to get out of town for a bit, calm your anxieties and explore a new area. Find a good hiking trail, get some suitable gear (because there’s nothing worse than feeling a blister building mid-hike) and get ready for a surprisingly effective workout.
Hiking, especially on a challenging slope or at a brisk pace, can be a killer cardiovascular workout. It gets your heart pumping and provides enough of a challenge to keep your heart rate elevated as you climb. It’s also a fantastic core workout, according to the Harvard Medical School. “Hiking on the slightly uneven surface of a trail also provides a natural way to engage the core muscles in your torso and to hone your balance skills.” You’re not going to get that on a treadmill.
You’re also going to reap all the stress-busting benefits of being outside. “A number of small studies hint that spending time in green space – nature preserves, woodlands and even urban parks – may ease people’s stress levels,” according to the Harvard Medical School. Get outside. Smell the trees. Catch some sunshine. Feel better.
Holy crap is jumping rope amazing exercise. This isn’t the jumping rope of your childhood, though. This is some serious stuff with some serious benefits for your fitness and physique. Sure, you can jump rope inside. Boxers do it all the time. But why would you want to when the sun is shining? Outside, there’s no gym equipment to work around and there’s no ceiling to smack your rope. Jump ropes are cheap, portable and fun, too.
“The jump rope is a tried and true method for improving conditioning and coordination,” according to BodyBuilding.com. “If you have never jumped rope before, you can expect a challenge.”
BodyBuilding.com suggests finding a quality rope and making sure it’s the right size for you. If you’re 6 feet or shorter, you’d be good with a 9-foot rope. If you’re a little taller, shoot for a 10-foot rope. Find a nice, even surface with a little bit of give, like a track or a tennis court and start with skill work. The last thing you want is to faceplant because you were trying to go too hard too fast. Get your basic footwork right before you start speeding things up, adding double jumps or playing around with arm position.
Hit The Court
Do you want to be in shape like Draymond Green? The answer is obvious. Yeah, you want to be in shape like one of the best current NBA stars. If that’s the case, then you’ve got to hit the court. Basketball is fun, social and a great way to work out outside.
First and foremost, basketball burns calories. How many calories you burn playing ball is largely dependent on how hard you’re running up and down the court, according to LiveStrong. “One hour of basketball can burn more than 600 or 700 calories. Dribbling, passing and shooting improves coordination, while the more minutes you play in a game, the more physical endurance you build.” All of that movement is going to help you build muscle in your legs, arms and core, too.
Alongside the physical, LiveStrong says that playing basketball with a team can improve your emotional and social health as well. “The physical boost you receive from basketball helps release endorphins in your brain, making you feel better emotionally.” Playing ball can help you focus your energy, relieve stress and build your confidence with every sunk shot. It can turn you into a team player and introduce you to new people with a shared interest. What’s better than getting fit, making friends and feeling good? Not much.
I know it’s hard to pry yourself away from the comfort of treadmills and barbells and the routine of the gym, but getting outside for your workout is worth it. You’re not only going to improve your fitness and move even closer to crushing your goals, but you’re going to get the opportunity to try new things, meet new people and, of course, feel that warm sunshine on your face. Sayonara, winter.
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