It’s been a long, long… long winter for many parts of the country, but warm weather is finally here, so get outside and enjoy it! Warm weather is good for more than BBQs and lazy days on the beach. There are thousands of ways to get in a fun and effective workout outdoors – and for many of the things you don’t even need your own equipment. You can easily use your surroundings. I’m going to get you started on a number of outdoor workout ideas, but you don’t have to stop there. Get creative and think of your own, too.
PARK BENCH WORKOUTS
There are so many amazing workouts that you can get from simply using an ordinary park bench in different ways. For each of these exercises, do at least three sets of 10-20 reps.
Here are just a few examples:
Situate yourself at the edge of the bench as if you were sitting on it, but then scoot your butt off a few inches past the bench, holding yourself up with straight arms. Either put your legs out straight in front of you, balancing on your heels, or bend them slightly.
For an extra challenge: Raise one leg in the air. Now, lower your body down until your butt is just a few inches off of the ground or as low as you can go. Keep your elbows behind you, making your triceps do most of the work. This amazing workout will help tone your arms and shoulders.
Position yourself facing the park bench, holding yourself up in a plank, with your hands on the edge of the bench seat. Make sure your butt is flat, and in line with your body. Slowly lower yourself down into a push-up and then raise yourself back up again.
For an extra challenge: To get another tricep workout, when you lower yourself down, tuck your elbows in so they remain at your side, with your elbows bending back towards your butt instead of out and away from your body. Another option is to raise one leg in the air and do either one of these styles of bench push-ups.
Face the bench and step up onto the bench, raising a knee high in the air. Step back down. Repeat these sets for each leg.
Place one toe on the park bench and face out away from the bench. Hop out a little so your leg is extended behind you with just a slight bend in the knee. Put your hands on your waist and complete a lunge, bending the knee but ensuring that your knee does not stick out beyond your toes. Repeat your sets on each leg.
Where I live in Florida, it’s flat, flat, flat. So in order to get an extra challenge of running, jogging, (or even walking) on an incline, I send my fitness boot campers on a bridge run. We take advantage of the incline of the bridge, and then the reward (in addition to a great workout) is a gorgeous view of the Intracoastal Waterway leading to the Gulf of Mexico. Plus, we get a nice downhill run after we crest the bridge. Look around your town and use your own bridges, land features, hills, mountains, or other natural obstacles to add an extra challenge to your run or walk.
Feel free to get the kids involved in this one, as it’ll be sure to help them burn off some of that extra energy. Start from a low squat then use your legs and arms to leap up, propelling yourself forward in a frog jump. Land in another squat and repeat.
Dust off those roller blades and roll along a bike path or other smooth surface. This can be another great, fun family activity. You’ll have so much fun you’ll hardly even notice you’re burning calories as well. But remember to wear appropriate safety gear.
This classic exercise works the whole body – arms, core, legs, and you even get a bit of cardio if you can keep up the pace. Start from a standing position, then bend down so your hands are on the ground. Leap your legs back into a plank, and then complete a push-up. Hop your legs back in so you’re squatting down low, then finish with leaping into the air. Repeat.
Pump up those tires, dust off the seat, and then get out to explore the town or the trails on your bike. Not only is this an incredible cardio and leg workout, riding bikes is a blast. It makes you feel like a kid again as you’re pedaling fast, the wind whipping through your hair, and you get to see the world in ways you probably haven’t since you were small. Whether it’s just a ride through your neighborhood, exploring new parts of town, enjoying local bike trails in the park or along the water, or even tackling some mountain bike trails, your bike surely will provide you days and days of fun and adventures and amazing workouts.
This travelling lunge will tone your legs and butt in no time. Start in a standing position, then step a leg forward, bending the knee at a right angle, not allowing the knee to go ahead of the toe, and also ensuring to bend your back knee as well. Now stand back up, like you just took a giant step forward. Do the same with the other leg, traveling forward a set amount of paces or to a chosen location. Repeat for several sets.
Do you have a large set of stairs at the local library, public building, city park, or is there a local stadium nearby? These are excellent tools you can use to get an incredible cardio and leg workout. Run up and down them several times. Each day you do this, try to increase your pace and then number of times you can do this before your legs give out on you.
Time yourself for a minute, lifting your knees up as high as they can go, as fast as they can go. Take a 30-second break then repeat at least two more times before moving on to the next exercise.
This low-impact, total-body workout is an incredible and fun way to exercise in the summer. Either make a trip to the beach or pool specifically with a workout in mind; or, if you’re there anyway as a fun day, set aside a little time to do laps or a more intense swimming time to get your heart pumping and your muscles engaged.
Whenever possible, do as many workouts in the sand, including going for runs. You burn 30-40% more calories by working out in the sand because it adds resistance. Also, Vitamin D from sunlight is beneficial to your body. Simply being outdoors and working out helps curb depression, increases one’s state of mind, and makes you feel great.