In terms of benefit, outdoor exercise isn’t just more enjoyable than a workout regimen at the gym.
Adding nature to your fitness routine is an easy way to increase the reward of a workout. According to a report by the USDA Forest Service, the health benefits of nature may have “relevance to injury prevention and control, diabetes, asthma, arthritis, musculoskeletal conditions, and other maladies.” Incorporating the great outdoors into your lifestyle may be even easier than you think. Here are five great ways to get out into the woods, water, and winter weather to make your workout regimen even more beneficial.
Hike in the Woods
One of my favorite ways to burn calories while enjoying the world around me is to hike in the woods. The sounds of squirrels hard at work and trees gently blowing in the wind have a soothing, meditative quality that recharges my mind and provides me with a unique emotional balance. Research has shown that the benefits of hiking alone go way beyond physical fitness. Increased attention spans, heightened creativity, and a renewed sense of well-being are just a few of the positive side-effects of a trek through nature. Check out a list of trails by state to get you started.
Enjoy a Water Workout
If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to kayak, make 2015 the year you dive into this rewarding activity. Kayaking is a basic upper-body exercise that allows individuals to go at their own pace. Arm strength, a better cardiovascular threshold, and increased core stability are a few of the physical benefits possible through this nautical opportunity—all while taking in the peaceful experience of being out on the water. Paddleboarding, canoeing, and, of course, swimming are also great ways to make the best of a natural body of water, without even realizing you’re working out.
Explore the Wonders of Winter
Outdoor exercise during the winter may seem like an impossible task, but with a few layers and some good footwear, anyone can enjoy the benefits of a snowy workout. Venturing outside for a taste of winter is a great way to ward off seasonal affective disorder, which can increase feelings of depression when the sun is consistently hidden. Exercising in the cold also burns more calories as your body works to get you warm (which happens before you know it). Some of my favorite winter activities are ice skating, cross country skiing, snow-shoeing, and good old-fashioned hiking.
Take an Outdoor Fitness Class
If your workout regimen consists of regular fitness classes, consider skipping the gym once in a while in exchange for some mood-enhancing exercise in the open air. Tai chi, yoga, and “bootcamp” classes are all activities you can enhance with the beauty of nature. Check your local park district to see what outdoor fitness classes are being offered near you.
Go for a Walk in Your Neighborhood
One of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to burn calories in nature is to go for a walk in your own neighborhood. This healthy activity not only burns calories, reduces stress, and exposes you to local flora and fauna; it also helps you to connect with your neighbors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), walking around town can provide individuals with a “lower risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, and some cancers,” while “making communities stronger” at the same time. It’s win-win to me!
What are some of your favorite ways to incorporate nature into your workout regimen? Send us a tweet with #GoodMatters!
Image source: Laurie Fanelli