This time of year, longer days and warmer temps often lead to lounging by the beach, lazing by the pool and barbecuing with friends. But what about your workouts? You could hit the gym or studio to sweat it out in the AC, or you could rack up some time in the great outdoors for an even bigger wellness boost.
You read that right. According to research, exercising outside for just five minutes improves your mood and self-esteem. If you’re really ambitious, the same study finds that a full day spent hiking and camping trip could result in even more improvements.
Ready to have fun in the sun and check “work out” off your to-do list? Here are five summer activities that get you outdoors and add up to serious fitness!
Hitting the Trails
It’s easy to nail your daily 10,000 steps goal when you get off the beaten path. Even if you stick to your regular walking speed, you’re likely to burn twice as many calories hiking. “The inclines and declines, as well as the uneven terrain require more muscles to be activated, increasing your heart rate, and therefore increasing the calorie burn,” says Los Angeles-based trainer Michelle Lovitt, C.S.C.S. Want to take it up another notch? Turn your next hike into a total-body workout with bodyweight moves.
Pedaling a Beach Cruiser
Whether you’re renting a bike in your favorite seaside locale or simply hopping on the one sitting in your garage, cycling can burn major calories. A 160-pound person can burn nearly 300 calories biking for an hour at a leisurely pace. To get more muscles in on the action, try to maintain pressure around the entire pedal stroke—this will engage both the fronts and backs of your legs. And no matter what or where you’re pedaling, don’t forget the helmet!
Running Through Sprinklers
Seriously! The kid in you will love cooling off and the adult in you will appreciate the exercise. Dancing around the water in the backyard can help you log a ton of steps. And if you keep moving for 60 minutes straight, you could burn the same number of calories as you would in a low-impact aerobics class—that’s around 365 for a 160-pound person. What are you waiting for? Crank up the hose!
Playing Frisbee in the Park
Lawn games might seem silly, but the sweat you build up chasing a disc is no joke. With all the sprinting involved, an energetic game of ultimate Frisbee is basically an interval session. And research shows that even small amounts of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can improve your cardio fitness levels.
Going for an Evening Stroll
HIIT has been getting all the cardio buzz lately, but even moderate-intensity exercise, like brisk walking, can improve your fitness. To reap the heart-health benefits, aim to walk briskly for 30 minutes, five days a week, with your average heart rate at 50 to 70 percent of your max heart rate (if you have a Fitbit tracker you’ll be in the fat burn heart rate zone). VIPs, if you don’t have your Fitbit yet, click here for an exclusive offer!