It's another sweltering summer, and it seems like everyone is boasting a bikini bod. The pressure to hit the gym is understandable. Maybe your goal is to fill out that sleeveless tank with toned triceps, or build up your quads before sporting a pair of swim trunks. But achieving those goals doesn't mean spending all your time cooped up in the gym.
With the temperature warming up, taking your workout outdoors is a great way to enhance your fitness level and increase the total satisfaction you get from your workout sessions. Not only will you get a great (free) sweat session, but being outside means you get to breathe in cleaner air and enjoy a change in scenery while getting a healthy dose of vitamin D.
Plus, according to research at the University of Essex, "green exercise" (exercise done in the presence of nature) improves self-esteem and mood.1 Integrate these exercises with 1-2 full-body workouts at the gym for sheer strength maintenance.
1. The Park Workout
A nearby park is the perfect location to get in a workout session. Parks offer multiple opportunities to perform resistance work while also enhancing your cardio. Park equipment tests your balance and agility, so if you play sports, the benefits will transfer over.
Make sure to start each workout with a brief 5-minute warm-up of some light jogging and end with a 5-minute cool-down of stretching and deep breathing.
2. The Beach Workout
Sand: It's nature's resistance. The nice thing about the beach is that you can reap great strength gains without having to use as much external weight. Plus, the shifting sand makes for a more engaged lower-body workout. In fact, a study published in the "Journal of Strength and Conditioning" found that running in the sand leads to an increase in calf circumference.2 How's that for gains?
The following beach workout combines both strengthening movements and cardiovascular conditioning to get you lean in a hurry. As tempting as it is to go barefoot, make sure that you wear supportive footwear while doing this workout to lessen the chance of twisting an ankle.
Aim to perform this workout with as little downtime between exercises as possible (resting for the appropriate amount of time between sets). If you find yourself fatigued, rest as needed. Restart as soon as possible once you're ready.
3. The Trail Workout
Head out to the trails and take in fresh scenery for another excellent opportunity to get in an effective workout while taking a break from the hectic pace of everyday life. Liven up your run and burn more calories by slogging up inclines, crossing creeks, and hopping over stones and twigs. Choose to time your run, and integrate exercises at set intervals, or opt for a less structured, free-form workout.
Listen to your body throughout the workout. Push hard enough to get in a good workout without exhausting yourself before the session ends.
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As the temperature heats up, the chance of dehydration will be that much greater. Remember to stay well hydrated. Either bring a water bottle with you or make sure you have access to water immediately after the workout is finished.
- What is the Best Dose of Nature and Green Exercise for Improving Mental Health? A Multi-Study Analysis. Environmental Science and Technology.
- A Comparison of the Endurance Training Responses to Road and Sand Running in High School and College Students. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.