With the relatively recent rise of gyms and boutique fitness studios, most of us feel like we can’t fit in exercise unless we’re sweating it out on a fancy elliptical trainer or struggling through a Pilates class. While these are both great forms of exercise, recent research shows that exercising outside can actually be more beneficial than exercising in a gym, both physically and psychologically. Taking your workout outdoors can potentially help burn more calories, increase your self-esteem, and even make your workout more enjoyable. Imagine that! Enjoying a workout. To help you get started, here are 7 workouts you and your family can enjoy outdoors this spring.
We just couldn’t leave this one out! If you know us, you know we love cycling because it’s a great activity for the whole family. Try taking a ride around the neighborhood for fun, or plan a few trips or errands throughout the week where you can swap the car for the bikes.
Jumping rope is one of the simplest but most effective cardiovascular workouts around. The rope is cost effective and portable. You can easily fit a jump rope in your purse or backpack so you can squeeze in small amounts of jumping on your lunch break (or recess) or take it with you on a family trip. Start by learning a basic jump, and then move on to more advanced jump rope techniques. Even if jumping rope doesn’t come naturally to you, the practice is great exercise in and of itself!
This doesn’t have to be a magazine-worthy, picture perfect mountain climbing experience. Find an area nearby that you enjoy. A place that makes you smile when you think about it. This could be a downtown shopping area or a small pond a few miles away from your house. Take a brisk walk for at least 30 minutes (or more). This is a great opportunity for your family to connect with each other without the distraction of television, cell phones, or homework, while also increasing their heart rate; and don’t forget to bring along the family dog!
Kayaking or Canoeing
This might not be readily available to everyone, but if you live near a body of water (even a small pond or lake), you might also live near an area that rents kayaks or canoes. Unlike most outdoor exercises, kayaking and canoeing are great upper body workouts and can help strengthen the muscles of the back and shoulders, muscles that tend to atrophy from prolonged periods of sitting.
Ever walk up a flight of stairs and feel absolutely winded? That's because climbing stairs works almost every muscle in the lower body. It even helps engage your core muscles as you balance with each step. Take a drive (or a bike ride) to the local high school or a local university. More often than not they have some outdoor stairs or bleachers. You can race, or come up with a goal to climb a family total of 1,000 steps. It’s a fun challenge, and if you do this a few times, you will quickly see improvements in how many steps you can climb before you feel winded.
If you have a big enough family, team sports such as capture the flag, tag, or even kickball are great ways to get moving without it feeling like a “workout.” If you’re in need of more people, consider joining (or starting) a local family meetup and meet up with other families to grow your team and make new friends.
Swinging, Climbing, Sliding
It doesn’t matter what your kids say! Adults are allowed to play at the park too. Swinging on the swings, climbing on the monkey bars, and repeated trips down the slide all get your heart rate up and work every muscle in your body. Not to mention it is so much fun.
What outdoor exercise are you going to try? Do you have a favorite outdoor activity that we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments below!