It’s time to move your workout from the sweaty confines of your local gym to the great outdoors. Here are eight ways to get in shape—and breathe in some fresh air while you do it—this spring.
1. DITCH THE TREADMILL FOR A JOG IN THE PARK.
One 2010 study found that people who walked on an outdoor track instead of an indoor treadmill not only enjoyed their workout more, but moved faster and perceived their workout as less strenuous. Go for a jog in your local park or, if there’s no park near you, lace up your sneakers and hit the sidewalk; nearly any pedestrian zone can be used for a refreshing jog. Bring a pedometer or time your run in order to keep track of your workout goals.
2. JOIN A SPORTS LEAGUE.
Spring is the perfect time to make your workout more social. Sign up for a team sport to make new friends and have more fun while you exercise. Whether you’re a hardcore football player or in the mood for some laidback weekend softball, there are plenty of options to choose from, and most cities have an array of sports leagues for athletes at different skill levels. Or, if you don’t want to commit to regular sports meets, find out where pick-up basketball, soccer, or disc games happen in your area and join in whenever you like.
3. RIDE YOUR BIKE TO WORK.
Depending on where you live and how far away you job is, switching to a bike commute can be a great way to incorporate some exercise into your daily routine. Do a little research on bike paths and the bike culture in your area and determine if a bike commute could work for you. And if biking to work isn’t an option, check out the bike paths in your area or sign up for a bike tour of your city.
4. RUN UPHILL BOTH WAYS.
Despite what your grandpa might have told you, it’s impossible to walk to school uphill both ways. But there are still plenty of ways to use hills in your workout: Develop an uphill routine that incorporates both light jogs and sprints for a workout that blends cardio and strength training. Drive around your neighborhood or search online to find the perfect hill: One that is at least 40 yards long with a steep incline.
5. BECOME A VOLUNTEER.
Sign up for some physically strenuous volunteer work for a workout that exercises both muscles and soul. During the spring and summer there are tons of outdoor volunteer activities you can partake in, from cleaning up your local park to building houses or volunteering as a dog walker at a local animal shelter.
6. HIT THE BEACH.
According to one study, running on the beach takes almost 1.6 times more energy than running on a track or other hard surface. But with the call of gulls, sunlight, and ocean breeze to keep you relaxed, you won’t even notice the difference (except in your results). If you have access to a nearby beach, there are unlimited ways to incorporate both ocean and sand into your workout. Go for a swim, participate in a water sport, sign up for some beach volleyball, or design your own workout routine, using the resistance of the sand to build muscle. Jogging, long jumps, crunches, and pushups are all great beach workout activities.
7. FIND AN OUTDOOR FITNESS CLASS.
If self-guided workouts aren’t for you, there are plenty of fitness classes to choose from. Check with your gym to see if they offer outdoor activities when the weather gets nice, look up an independent outdoor yoga or pilates class near you, or check with your local park to see what kinds of summer fitness programs they offer. It’s not uncommon for public parks to organize fitness classes, yoga, tai chi, and group jogging programs during the summer—and best of all, they’re usually free.
8. USE THE WORLD AS YOUR GYM.
Practice push-ups on park benches; use the sidewalk curb as a tightrope to practice your balance and work out your core; do chin-ups on a tree branch. When the sun starts shining and the flowers start blooming, the world becomes your gym.