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Summertime is officially upon us, and my oh my, what a wonderful time it is to be outside!
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been itching to get outside every day to enjoy the sun and warm weather. I've been staying away from the gym and I'm totally over working out at home. That said, I still want to prioritize moving my body in ways that celebrate it and feel great. I’m sure I’m not the only one, so I’ve curated a list of my favorite outdoor activities that always make great workouts.
Whether you're interested in a low impact workout or more energized movement, there's something for you!
Swimming (low impact)
Swimming is a great full-body workout because of the resistance the water provides. It builds strength, endurance, and heart health through cardiovascular movement. Additionally, it’s a low stress form of exercise that improves mobility, flexibility, coordination, and balance. Play around with all the different swimming styles the next time you’re at the pool or beach:
Biking (low to moderate impact)
Not only is bike riding a fun way to get from point A to point B, it's also an effective low impact exercise. Some benefits of biking include:
- Improved coordination
- Can be a great mood-boosting activity
- Aerobic exercise can help improve immune system and endurance
- Environmentally friendly transportation
If you don’t own a bike, try a rental service to see if biking is for you (without making a huge financial commitment). Craigslist and OfferUp are good resources for finding used, fairly priced bikes. Happy riding!
Sightseeing (low impact)
Exploring your city on foot is an excellent low impact form of exercise. Walking is truly one of the best ways to move your body - especially if you're new to exercise and looking for something to ease you in!
Try walking for at least 30 minutes as briskly as you can on most days of the week. At a brisk pace you should still be able to talk, but not sing, and you may be puffing slightly. Moderate activities like walking pose little health risk, but if you have a medical condition, check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program or physical activity. (Source)
Additionally, try re-thinking how you approach movement in general. All of these "non-workout" activities are forms of exercise:
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator (for at least part of the way)
- Get off public transport one stop earlier and walk during your commute
- Walk (don’t drive) to local shops
- Walk your dog
- Download an audio walking tour of an area in your city and play tourist!
One of my favorite ways to incorporate walking into my day is by choosing a destination- like a grocery store that’s in a different neighborhood, or a coffee shop that has a sandwich I like- and walking there. I choose different routes regularly to keep my eyes and brain interested in the surroundings, which helps make walking feel less monotonous.
Rock Climbing (high impact)
For a fun challenge, rock climbing builds full body strength: your arms, legs, and core are all engaged when you're scaling a wall or boulder. It also improves balance, stamina, grip strength, and can have mental health benefits to boot.
Okay, okay, I know what you may be thinking... but rock climbing can be an accessible activity! If you're new to the sport, there are plenty of indoor rock climbing spaces that offer training from a professional as well as full safety protocols and equipment.
If rock climbing feels out of the question for you right now, try climbing some small rocks next time you go on a hike or to the park!
Beach Volleyball (moderate impact)
Beach sports in general are a great way to move your body while also being social. Volleyball engages your arms, back, core, and lower body while also demanding hand-eye coordination and teamwork.
Resistance is one of the key components to gaining muscle tone, and sand is a great resistance tool. Playing in sand strengthens and tones the muscles and creates an intense, full body workout. Beach volleyball players are working twice as hard as players on an indoor court!
Other great options for beach sports include:
- Sandcastle building
Hiking (low to high impact)
If you’re sick of walking around the city, it may be time to hop in the car (or on the train) and take a hike! Aside from getting to experience the beauty and fresh air that nature has to offer, it's great for your health, too. Adaptable to any fitness level, hiking is a powerful cardio workout that can:
- Lower your risk of heart disease
- Improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels
- Boost bone density (as it is a weight-bearing activity)
- Strengthen the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and the muscles in your hips and lower legs
- Build core strength
- Improve balance
Aside from these physical benefits, it's also a natural mood-booster. "Research shows that hiking has a positive impact on combating the symptoms of stress and anxiety," says Gregory A. Miller, PhD, president of the American Hiking Society. "Being in nature is ingrained in our DNA, and we sometimes forget that."
Playground Activities (low-to-moderate impact)
This one is an especially good option for those with children in their lives. Swinging, climbing, and sprinting all offer great benefits for strength, cardio, and coordination.
For kids: Occupational therapists recognize jungle gym play as the best form of developmental play structure for young children. This form of free play encourages children to be active while also engaging their minds: the jungle gym could become a pirate ship on the stormy seas, a princess castle, an army boot camp.... They're encouraged to use their imagination and creativity to make their own form of fun. (Source)
For adults: Engaging in activities like playing on the jungle gym with the young ones in your life encourages them to celebrate movement and imagination. It also sets a great example to children that you can play at any age.
Plus, have you tried swinging on monkey bars lately? Talk about an upper body workout! And join the kids in a few rounds of tag for a sprinting workout that feels like playtime.
Stand Up Paddle Boarding (moderate impact)
A safe, moderate impact sport, paddle boarding is something that people of all ages and skill levels can enjoy- a big reason why it’s become so popular over the last several years. (Source) In addition to being an incredibly fun outdoor activity, stand up paddle boarding also offers a wide array of impressive health benefits:
- It provides an intense, head-to-toe workout without contributing to wear and tear on the body
- Improves cardiovascular health
- It’s an outstanding way to strengthen your core muscles
- Excellent for improving balance
- Good way to boost endurance
- Helps with stress relief and combating depression
- It's a unique way to work out and mix up your fitness routine!
Canoeing or Kayaking (moderate impact)
Similar to stand up paddle boarding, canoeing and kayaking offer a cardio-centric workout that requires stamina and core stabilization.
Because both of these activities call for big, often expensive equipment, joining a canoeing or kayaking club is a great option. Many larger parks and lakes have clubs that allow you to rent or borrow equipment. Joining a club also helps ensure safety and access to training along the way.
Canoeing and kayaking are low impact activities that also offer many health benefits, including:
- Improved cardiovascular fitness
- Increased strength in the back, arms, shoulders, and chest
- Increased torso and lower body strength too! Powering the canoe/kayak comes largely from rotating the torso and applying pressure with the legs.
- Reduced risk of wear and tear on joints and tissues (Source)
Now get outside and enjoy the summer! Which of these activities is calling your name?
Let us know what outdoor activities you love to do. And follow us on Instagram for your daily dose of Pongo Power!
Ready To Kick Your Summer Up a Notch?
Meet the Author
Mental Health First Aid Certified
As the General Manager for Pongo Power, Izzy helps oversee and manage ongoing projects in all departments. Her knacks for organization and administration help Pongo Power implement the much needed systems for a growing small business!
She brings over 10 years of administrative, client-oriented and managerial experience as well as a personal passion for health and wellness! During her free time, Izzy is often at the gym/yoga studio, on a long walk through the city or searching for a new vegan restaurant!
“My passion in life is to make things as simple as possible. I believe we can achieve anything as long as we truly understand it. We can understand anything if it’s broached to us in a language we comprehend. My goal is to speak YOUR language!”