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Fitness

7 Best Outdoor Workouts and the Benefits of Exercising Outdoors

5 Mins read

Many people enjoy outdoor workouts to get their daily nature fix and reap the benefits of exercising outdoors. Even though summer is winding down and it will soon be autumn, it’s still warm enough outside to do outdoor workouts. (Your body warms up when you start exercising, anyway.)

There are many benefits to exercising outdoors, as fresh air is great for your health and spending time in nature is linked to happiness. Whether you like to hike, run, rollerblade, swim, kayak, walk, ride a bike, or do callisthenics in the park – it’s always fun to exercise outdoors. 


Are you aware of the many health benefits of exercising outdoors? It reduces blood pressure, improves your mood and regulates your nervous system. Exercising outdoors can also reduce insomnia and make it easier for you to get a good night’s sleep. Your cardiovascular endurance will also improve with outdoor workouts. Additionally, there are health benefits associated with spending some time each day in the sunshine. You’ll get vitamin D, and it’s true what they say about sunshine cheering people up. 

Outdoor workouts also help you save time and money, compared to paying for (and driving to) the gym. It also feels nice to get physically fit while connecting with nature. Below are 7 of the best outdoor workouts to try:

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1. Hiking

The view is typically worth the climb, and the challenge of rough terrain can be exciting. Climbing a hill has aerobic and anaerobic benefits. How does hiking improve your health? For starters, hiking can be very good for your heart. Studies show that at least 45 minutes of continuous hiking can burn calories after your workout. You can burn 450-500 calories per hour while hiking. A challenging terrain will let you enjoy the workout much longer than if you choose an easier terrain.

Hiking has the benefit of improving cardiovascular and pulmonary health, along with being an incredible leg workout. Uphill climbing will use your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, calves, and core muscles. Calves assist your joints while ascending or descending. The quadriceps assist the knees and provide stability. You may have realized that hiking improves these muscles. Did you know that you can even tone your arms while hiking? Using your hands, shoulders, along with trekking poles can transfer energy to your arms. So, hiking can be a full-body workout – usually with a fantastic view at the top.

2. Swimming at a Pool, Lake or Beach

Another great full-body workout to consider for the outdoors during summer involves swimming. Beaches are still open. Even if you don’t live near the water, you can get exercise at a local swimming pool.

Swimming works the core, abdominal and lower back muscles to keep you steady in the water. How else can toning muscles help you swim better? The glutes and hamstrings help with propulsion so you can swim faster and more effectively. Swimming can burn 500 calories per hour. 

Lots of people enjoy the outdoors during the summer but may not be aware of their posture. They may have a slouched posture. Did you know swimming can also improve your posture and breathing? Swimming improves muscles in the upper back. Swimming also improves core stability, which is important when you’re holding your breath and maintaining rhythm while in the pool, lake, or ocean. Swimming is aerobic, helps improve your lung capacity and can keep the heart pumping. Swimming is low stress on your joints and muscles. It’s an exercise that also reduces the impact on the knees. It is a great exercise for overweight and obese people, as well.

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3. Cycling

This aerobic activity endurance and toning benefits. You will notice your glutes, hamstrings, and core developing. Bicycling also works your back muscles. Your core is used to provide stability. 

If you ride a bike for an hour, you may burn up to 700 calories. Consider going for a ride alone or get some friends and do a fun activity together. 

There might be a very beautiful, scenic cycling path in your area. Gorgeous scenery is one of the perks of outdoor cycling, in addition to it being great exercise.

4. Kayaking 

Kayaking is another fun and scenic outdoor workout with great benefits for improving muscle tone in the arms and back. If you’re near a lake, you can go kayaking with some friends and get a great workout. Kayaking improves strength in the abdominals, biceps, forearms, and lats. Consider going kayaking twice per week. You’ll notice improved muscular definition in your shoulders. Your arms will get toned if you kayak often.

Is kayaking effective cardio if done at a rapid pace? Yes, kayaking can burn about 400 calories per hour if you paddle quickly. Doing this activity for leisure will only burn about 50 calories per hour, but even at a leisurely pace, you’re still toning your arm muscles.

5. Beach Workouts

Why not get some exercise at the beach and have fun at the same time? The sand makes it difficult to gain stability in your hands and feet. Beach workouts can be challenging. The workouts require that you adapt to the surface and being outdoors. What exercises might you do at the beach? Push-ups and jogging will feel different on the sand.

Beach workouts also can involve stretching or squats. Beach workouts can burn 350-800 calories per hour. Asia Bradlee, fitness writer for Boston Magazine, recommends a light warmup such as jogging to get used to the environment, then do squat jumps or use a pail full of sand as resistance. She explains that “your entire body has to work harder while you run or perform different strength moves.” Feel free to enjoy some time in the sand after you’re done.

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6. Scenic Walk

Walking is a very simple activity that you can do for 30 – 60 minutes three times per week and get weight loss results. Walking is an outdoor workout that burns about 100 calories per mile. If you don’t want to walk too fast because you love taking in the scenery, take your time. Your weight and the distance walked determines how many calories you burn. I recommend that you take water and go for a walk in your neighbourhood for as long as you like. 

Walking is an aerobic activity that can increase lung capacity. Walking also improves your mobility. A power walk will engage the glute muscles, hamstrings, and quadriceps. You also need good joint stability in your knees. Enjoy a scenic walk early in the morning before it gets too hot, or around sunset hour.  

7. Calisthenics or Circuit Training at the Park


Connect with your natural environment while jogging, sprinting, or stretching. Callisthenics is one of those outdoor workouts that can be brief, yet very effective. You can burn 150-300 calories in 30 minutes. An hour of these activities would burn almost 400 calories. Lung health is extremely important, especially for people with health conditions such as asthma. They should pace themselves and take rest breaks of 1-2 minutes in between activities.

Cardiovascular endurance will improve with circuit training at the park. What exercise combinations are effective? The ones that challenge you and make your body adapt. For example, you can do a set of dips using parallel bars, then sprint across the park. Dips will work your chest and shoulders. Sprinting tones your glutes and core. You can add in some repetitions of burpees or jump squats for an added challenge. The important thing is to get moving and challenge yourself.

What is Your Optimal Exercise Routine Based on Your DNA?

Your genetics can determine whether you naturally have high or low endurance and high or low strength. Based on your DNA, you might be better suited to an aerobic activity like hiking rather than calisthenics, but you’ll never know until you get your CircleDNA test to find out.

  

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About author
Jon Jenkins is a writer from Brooklyn, New York. He promotes physical fitness, strength training, and powerlifting. He has a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of North Carolina and a master’s degree in Creative Writing from Long Island University. He also enjoys reading and listening to music.
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