Can you hear it? It’s the sounds of birds chirping, “it’s spring!” If you’ve been feeling cooped up lately (and haven’t we all), now is the time to get some outside activity with a few springtime workouts. Hopefully, you can hit up a nearby park, but if not, and you have a backyard, patio, or balcony, you can still enjoy working out in the great outdoors.
Here’s why you’ll want to: Exercising in the sunshine gives you a vitamin D boost (because sun exposure helps your body produce the vitamin). And vitamin D is important because it keeps your bones strong and may even help with cognitive health, according to the Mayo Clinic.1
Also, an outdoor workout is low-cost — you’re saving money by not going to the gym or signing up for an expensive digital subscription service. Plus, it gives you a self-esteem boost. Being out in nature is soothing and could help reduce your stress and make you feel good about yourself.2 What’s not to like about that?
We’ve rounded up seven of the best outdoor workouts you can try today, whether it’s in a local park or your own backyard. Give one a try!
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Have you heard of high-intensity interval training? Don’t worry, it sounds more complicated than it actually is. This style of exercise doesn’t require any fancy equipment — just a pair of sneakers and a watch. The goal is to alternate up-tempo exercise with low-intensity exercise or rest.
For something simple, try three minutes of fast walking followed by three minutes of slow walking for 30 minutes.3 You could also try more “boot camp” style exercises for your up-tempo moves, like jumping jacks, jogging in place, mountain climbers, crunches — you name it. Search online for free HIIT workouts — you’ll find lots of digital inspiration!
The payoff for doing a HIIT workout is huge: Research shows it may reverse some deterioration of muscle cells, help naturally lower blood pressure, improve leg strength and boost overall aerobic fitness levels.3
Photo by Arek Adeoye on Unsplash
It’s simple, it’s basic, but it really works! Walking not only allows you to appreciate nature and your surroundings while you move your body, but it also comes with big benefits, especially if you take walks regularly (think: five days a week). If you don’t have access to a park or a trail nearby, try walking around your neighborhood a few times a day.
Walking comes with big health benefits: Research shows that it may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular complications by 31%.4 Plus, walking comes along with the same perks as all aerobic exercise: It can improve your cholesterol and blood pressure and lower your odds of obesity, diabetes and depression.4
Consider investing in an activity tracker to keep tabs on the number of steps you take — then try increasing that amount day by day. A good goal: 10,000 steps per day, which you can slowly work your way up to. Here are 12 tips to start a walking routine you can stick with.
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3. Biking riding
Most of us have a bike (even if it’s just sitting in the garage getting dusty) but don’t really use it. Now’s the time to wipe it down and actually put it to use. We promise you won’t forget how to ride it. If you have a stationary bike, even better!
Take a spin around your neighborhood or park. You’ll get fresh air and burn calories while you’re at it. Plus, if you suffer from joint pain or arthritis, bike-riding is a low-impact workout that won’t put pressure on your joints.5
Another perk: Peddling can help build muscle from your glutes all the way down to your calves, thanks to the act of pushing down on the pedal, and you’ll work your abdominals as you hold your body upright on the bike.5
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Many local parks have a volleyball net. If you can’t get to a park, you can always order a net online and set it up in your backyard — for your whole family to enjoy.
Volleyball requires you to jump, chase after the ball, and do various other bursts of exercise that get your heart rate up and burn calories. Plus, if you swing and miss during a serve or spike attempt, it can make for a good laugh. Because volleyball is a social sport, you can enjoy bonding with your family while you play.
Photo by David Lezcano on Unsplash
5. Pool exercise
Have a backyard pool? Well, you’re in luck! Pools aren’t just for cooling off in the summertime — they’re a great place to get a low-impact workout that can help tone your entire body.
Consider treading water or water jogging to get your heart rate up. You can even invest in some water hand weights for an upper body workout, too. If your pool is big enough, you may want to try swimming laps — which is a great way to burn calories and strengthen your body.
Did you know?
Swimming uses almost every muscle in your body.6
If you don’t have a pool of your own, you can always visit your community pool if it’s open, for a low-cost way to get a workout.
Photo by vladee on Shutterstock
6. Outdoor yoga
When we think of yoga, most of us picture an indoor, studio-style class, but you can bring your mat outside, whether to your backyard or a local park, and do one of the best outdoor workouts in the sunshine.
To find a routine, either search for a video online or you can even print out a list of poses that you can bring with you al fresco.
New to yoga? Check out our Beginner’s Guide to Yoga to get started.
Yoga helps calm anxiety and stress (which is much-needed during a time like this), builds muscle, and makes you less sedentary.7 Another bonus? It may even help give you a body image a boost, because the practice puts the focus on your movements, breath and strength, rather than your appearance.7
Photo by JuliaStar on Shutterstock
7. Strength training
Ever notice that parks often have a zone with equipment like pull-up bars and rings? If you have a nearby park that is accessible, utilize whatever equipment they have to create a workout routine circuit.
If they have pull-up bars, try your luck at a few. If they have rings, try swinging from one to the next. Some parks even have elliptical machines that you can use for a few minutes before resting. Then, repeat the circuit.
If you can’t get to a park, try bringing some hand weights outside for an arm workout in the sunshine. Strength training helps boost your lean muscle mass, reduces body fat, and efficiently burns calories.8
Need a few pointers to get started? Try these 6 tips to start a strength training routine.
This week, set a goal to get some fresh air and sunshine. You’ve earned it, and your body will thank you!
Want to get healthy and fit before summer arrives? Jenny Craig can help. Get delicious chef-crafted meals delivered to your doorstep starting at $12.99 a day. Get started today.
Leslie Barrie has a health writing and editing background, and holds her master's degree from Columbia University Graduate Journalism School. Over the past 10 years, she has worked at various magazines in New York City, such as Woman's Day, Health, Seventeen, and more. When she's not writing about health, she likes living it — she enjoys running, hiking, swimming, and yoga (even though she's not the best at it, it helps her to relax!).
Favorite healthy snack: a piece of dark chocolate with a handful of almonds
Reviewed by Briana Rodriquez, RDN
Briana is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer for Jenny Craig, based in Carlsbad, California. She is passionate about utilizing food as functional and preventative medicine. Guided by a simplistic and optimistic approach, Briana’s philosophy is to help people improve their health and achieve their goals through the development of sustainable habits to live a healthy life. In her free time, you can find her strength training, indoor cycling, coffee tasting, and at local eateries with her husband and two dogs.
Favorite healthy snack: peanut butter with celery alongside a grapefruit-flavored sparkling water (so refreshing!)
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Edited by Elisa - Jenny Craig