Best Outdoor Exercises – Outdoor Workouts

SUMMER GIVES YOU THE BEST EXCUSE to put away your gym kit and get outside to enjoy fresh air and sunny days for an awesome workout. “Fitness doesn’t have to start and finish at the gym door, and training outdoors when the weather is nice is a great way to improve your activity levels and get fitter,” says personal trainer Chris Gregory.

Here’s why you should skip the indoors for an al fresco fitness fix. GYM WOE: YOU’RE STUCK IN A RUT Working out in the gym is convenient, but unless you’ve got a willpower of steel, it’s easy to get complacent and just go through the motions rather than giving each session maximum effort. “Exercising outdoors gives you so many options, and if you enjoy the exercise you do, it makes staying fit and healthy something that’s far more likely to become a habit and part of your everyday life,” explains Gregory. Whether you like walking or bodyweight exercises, there are so many ways to make use of outside space. “Increase your steps through walking (I recommend you hit 10,000 steps a day), try a circuit session outdoors or drag gym equipment outside and set up workout stations with some kit like battle ropes, kettlebells, slam balls, farmer’s walk carries and even barbells (if your gym is accommodating),” adds Gregory.

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If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to a monthly gym fee, heading outside is a budget-conscious way to find your fitness fill. “Find a local park with calisthenics apparatus to try things like L-sit holds, leg raises and pull-ups for a totally free workout,” suggests Gregory. Cardio exercise like sprinting or power walking in your local green space is a great way to get your heart pumping, and it costs zilch. Then, with the money you’ve saved on your gym membership, treat yourself to new fitness gear to keep your motivation up.


Training outdoors gives you a blank canvas to test your body, strength and fitness in new ways. The more you push yourself out of your comfort zone and change up your routine, the more you’ll improve. “When you train, train with purpose. Set small goals and challenges to achieve week-toweek and then try to beat them,” says Gregory. Varying your terrain is a good way to do this. “If you’re on holiday, test yourself with a beach run – the surface is unstable so it makes the activity far more challenging, plus it’s better on your joints than running on hard tarmac surfaces.” And, instead of pounding away on the treadmill, challenge yourself with a hill run using the gradient to increase intensity rather than having to run faster or longer. “If you’re hiking or walking, add a weighted vest or heavy bag to boost kilojoule burn, and if you’re brave enough, why not try a wild swim? As well as being good exercise, taking a dip in a lake, creek or the open ocean can actually activate your sympathetic nervous system, which is energising,” adds Gregory.


Keeping your heart rate up is a big part of a successful workout, so breaking between exercises to wait for your turn at using the gym machines is a sure-fire way to send productivity plummeting. “Having to wait around for machines can disrupt your workout when you’re in the zone. If you’re following a protocol like antagonist supersets or circuit training, which all require high intensity to elicit optimal results, queuing will kill the requisite intensity of your session, and your motivation along with it,” says Gregory, whereas exercising outside means you won’t waste valuable time. “If you’re going to the gym to use a treadmill and they’re always full, you’re never going to have to queue to run outdoors.” Invest in some resistance bands – these are easy to use in any park or outdoor space and provide a full-on resistance workout that will engage your muscles just as effectively as any gym machine would.


Exercising outside isn’t just more inspiring than being surrounded by the same four walls, it also offers extra health benefits. Vitamin D deficiency can become a real problem around the end of winter due to the lack of sunlight exposure we experience when it’s dark and cold. So, since vitamin D is stored in our bodies, it makes sense to try to up your intake during the summer. Vitamin D not only keeps your bones strong, it also fights infection and helps lift energy levels and boost mood. “Be sensible when working out in hot weather. Ensure you’re drinking plenty of water to keep your body hydrated (around three litres a day), as you’ll sweat more, which means a greater risk of dehydration,” advises Gregory. “Don’t wear dark clothes, as they absorb the heat, and ensure you’re not wearing tight-fitting clothing which keeps the heat in. Instead, opt for clothes that are light and loose and more likely to keep you cool. And don’t forget to slap on the sunscreen. Go for a special sports-adapted suncream which you won’t sweat out as easily.”


Going to the gym can end up taking more than a couple of hours out of your day once you’ve factored in the travel, changing into kit and then showering post-workout, plus of course, the time you dedicate to your session. Instead, incorporating exercise into your day is a great way to make the most of your time. “It’s surprisingly easy to find creative ways to add it to your lifestyle. Simple things like walking instead of taking the bus, taking the dog for a walk before or after work, going out exploring on your lunch hour or heading out for a run when you get home can all make a big difference to your fitness levels,” says Gregory. Make a commitment to walk a couple of Ks every day and track your steps with a fitness app, or invest in a bike and turn your daily commute into a workout. “And if you’re planning weekend activities with family or friends, instead of focusing activity around food and drink (like bars and restaurants), plan something active outdoors – whether it’s rock climbing, hill walking or a sport like soccer or tennis,” he adds.

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