Best Outdoor Exercises to Add to Your Routine This Summer

I’m the first to say I love the gym. But sometimes, going out to enjoy nature and feel the sun on your skin beats a stuffy and often crowded gym.

I always found it difficult to divide my time between structured exercise and my favorite outdoor activities, until I realized that these outdoor activities were actually increasing my fitness, not taking it away. making a CrossFit training and same-day mountain biking never ends well for my legs, anyway.

I always like to ask people, “How do you use your fitness?” It makes them think about what their time at the gym means outside the gym. Here are four ways I like to use my fitness that are great for summer weather.

Read below: Hate exercise? 4 ways to make workouts more enjoyable

A mountain biker whips his rear tire on a dirt track

Mountain biking can double as a strength and cardio workout.

Daniel Milchev/Getty Images

mountain biking

Main muscles worked: Quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, core, calves

Where: Designated mountain bike trails only

How to begin: Rent a mountain bike to see if you like it; consider buying your own if you go often

If you want a serious leg workout
look no further than mountain bike. From beginner trails to double black diamonds, there’s a mountain bike challenge for all fitness and skill levels.

Steep hills, challenging switchbacks, and a variety of obstacles (jumping rocks or narrow bridges, anyone?) will engage muscles you didn’t even know you had. Your whole body will work hard, but your legs are the ones that suffer the most.

Mountain biking is not just a strength training, Nonetheless. It works like an intense cardio workout for both your aerobic and anaerobic resistance. don’t forget your helmet

a young woman looks up and smiles while going up a climbing route

While it may seem intimidating, climbing is not difficult for beginners.

Daniel Milchev/Getty Images

climbing and bouldering

Main muscles worked: Whole body, but especially fingers, forearms and obliques

Where: State and national parks, hiking trails, outdoor climbing parks

How to begin: Search online for nearby climbing areas, try an indoor gym, rent or buy suitable equipment, hire a guide or join a group

Want to feel like a kid climbing a jungle gym again? Try climbing. While it may seem intimidating, climbing isn’t difficult for beginners, especially if you start out at an indoor climbing gym or take an outdoor climbing class to get the basics down.

There are several forms of climbing, but the most common for beginners are bouldering and free climbing. Bouldering involves climbing short routes on real boulders (or inner rock walls) that are 15 feet tall and shorter without a harness or rope. All you need for this is climbing shoes and chalk: pads are provided at gyms, but you’ll need to bring your own for outdoor climbing.

Free climbing, also called lead climbing or top-rope, requires a harness that connects you to a rope, climbing shoes, and often a helmet to climb routes of around 20 feet or more. All types of climbing are an excellent form of exercise that works the entire body, from your toes to your toes. Your fingers and forearms will be especially sore afterwards.

Plus, every route you climb (also called “troubles” in bouldering) also works your brain because it’s a mental puzzle to figure out how to move your body to get to the top.

Regardless of the type of climbing you are interested in, it is extremely important that you don’t go it alone as a beginner. Go with a group of people well-versed in safe climbing practices, or start at an indoor climbing gym, where instructors can show you the ropes (both literal and figurative).

an elderly man stands on top of a paddle board in calm water

After just a few minutes of paddling, you will feel the burn in your arms, shoulders, and back.

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Main muscles worked: Arms, shoulders, upper back, core

Where: Any natural body of water without vessel restrictions, weather permitting

How to begin: Consult your city for rentals, routes and tours

Choose a vessel and get on the water: paddle boats, kayaks and canoes are a fun and difficult way to explore lakes, rivers, canals, bays and other bodies of water.

After just a few minutes of paddling, you will feel the burn in your arms, shoulders, and back. You can also feel it in your essential
and hip flexors due to the stabilization needed to keep your vessel stable.

If you’re new to rowing, consider joining a guided tour. Your tour guide will not only guide you through the canals and tell you interesting facts about nature, but can also give you tips for a good way of paddling, depending on the type of boat you are on.

On the other hand, if you’re feeling more adventurous and up for a challenge, try paddling in open water. The ocean does not forgive!

Just be sure to check the weather before you go to avoid dangerous conditions and intensity level surprises. I once went kayaking in Key Largo when a summer storm was coming, and the wind was blowing so furiously that I ended up spinning donuts in my kayak because I couldn’t right the boat against the wind. Talk about a workout.

a middle-aged couple enjoy diving into the blue-green water

Snorkeling is a great form of physical activity that engages every muscle from head to toe.

Images by David Sacks/Getty


Main muscles worked: Whole body

Where: Any body of water designated for diving (usually off a shore or sandbar, or deep water with a guide)

How to begin: Search for local operations near your city to find equipment rentals, self-guided dive areas and guided tours

Before you scoff, know that snorkeling is surprisingly difficult – especially if you take a boat through the waves and swim in the real waves.

Whether you cling to calm waters or hit rock bottom, snorkeling is a great form of physical activity that engages all your muscles from head to toe. Literally. The last time I went diving, my toes and the arches of my feet were sore from kicking my legs with the fins.

Aside from the obvious moves (your arms and legs moving to propel you through the water), your core also gets a good workout. Gliding through the water, taking turns to observe marine life and hovering in the water all require central control and stability. Don’t be surprised if your abdomen is sore afterwards!

As with other water activities, check the weather before you go. Most rental and tour companies do not lend equipment or book tours if the weather is bad or could get bad.

a young woman does yoga outdoors on a purple mat

Find your zen with yoga outdoors.

Prasit photo/Getty Images

yoga park

Main muscles worked: Whole body

Where: Any outdoor area where exercise is allowed

How to begin: Search for basic yoga poses or download a yoga mat for beginners and take your mat to the park!

it can be as hard or as easy as you like. That’s why it’s a great option for summer workouts: it’s versatile, so you can adapt to whatever you want on any given day.

To add an extra element of wellness to your yoga practice, try taking it outside. Sunlight and fresh air can make the whole thing feel even more zen. Check your city’s guidelines and regulations for outdoor fitness
in parks before you roll out your rug.

don’t forget to dress sunscreen if you try outdoor yoga or any of these outdoor summer workout ideas.

More fitness tips for better health

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended for medical or health advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.

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