Long, sunny days makes it more tempting than ever to take a break from the treadmill and take your workout outside. “This is the time of year to show your fitness off, and stay engaged in your fitness,” says Maureen “Mo” Hagan, the vice-president of program innovation for GoodLife Fitness and canfitpro, the largest provider of education in the Canadian fitness industry.
And while you can technically take almost any indoor workout outdoors, summer’s a great time to try totally new workouts to keep your routine feeling fresh and to challenge your muscles in a new way. Try one of these 4 workouts to give your fitness routine a lift this summer.
1. Join a recreational sports league
Looking for a social boost to amp up your fitness? Try joining an adult recreational league. They’re a great way to stay accountable and engaged in your fitness routine, says Hagan: “There is a level of accountability to show up when you’re there for other people, including accountability to be fit and contribute to the group.” Team sports can also make you feel like a kid again, adding an element of nostalgia to your workouts.
Look online to see which sports are available in your area. You’ll likely find staple sports such as soccer and softball, as well as more out-there options like trampoline dodgeball.
If you have joint or mobility issues, go for lower-impact, no-contact options that don’t require quick changes in direction. A cycling club or hiking group might be a great fit.
2. Take your walk outside
There’s perhaps no simpler way to stay fit on a summer day than to take a brisk walk. “Walking is the most natural sport,” says Hagan. “And science shows there are literally hundreds of benefits.” Those benefits include weight control, lower blood pressure, a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and improved mood. Walking outside also helps you get vitamin D, a nutrient your skin naturally produces when you’re exposed to the sun.
Any brisk walking offers benefits, but increasing your speed or altering the terrain can help you get more from each workout. Take shorter, more rapid steps to protect your joints and increase your cardio burn. Or take your workout to an uneven surface, like the beach. The soft sand challenges your muscles in a new way, explains Hagan, increasing your health benefits.
3. Be an active camper
In Canada, we’re blessed with some of most beautiful lakes, rivers and forests around - and camping in the summer is a great way to enjoy them. Make your camping trips part of your healthy lifestyle by planning your trip around activities like hiking, swimming, canoeing or kayaking and paddle-boarding.
Seek out destinations that allow access to water, trails or roads for cycling, says Hagan, and encourage your kids to try new activities on each trip. “If you’re into nature, make it an adventure,” she says. Enjoy birdwatching during a brisk walk, or admire the local flora on a nature hike.
4. Try outdoor yoga
Including yoga in your fitness routine offers plenty of health perks, from building strength to improving your flexibility. But taking your yoga practice outside offers additional benefits. “When you’re outdoors practising stillness and mindfulness, you can become far more acutely aware of the world around you,” says Hagan. “You feel the grounding in the poses differently than when you’re in a studio on the floor.”
Most cities and yoga studios offer some outdoor yoga options in the warmer months, so look online to find out what’s available in your area. And if you’re a more experienced yogi, simply take your mat to the nearest park for a calming outdoor practice.
Stay safe during your outdoor activities
Safety is key for any fitness routine, but becomes especially important when you’re exercising outdoors. Follow these tips to keep your workouts safe and healthy:
- Consult your doctor before starting a new exercise routine, and check in with a fitness professional to build up your fitness for a new or favourite summertime sport, if needed.
- Ease into any new activity. Start by limiting your sports playing to 1 or 2 nights weekly, or gradually build your endurance with beach- or trail-walking.
- Wear a water-resistant sunscreen with UVA and UVB protection, and reapply throughout the day, after swimming and after sweating.
- Hydrate with water or a sports drink before, during and after your workouts.
- Mind the temperature, and avoid outdoor workouts during late morning and early afternoon, when the sun is strongest. Read Too much sun? How to handle heat-related illness.
- Wear bug spray when you’re outdoors and check for ticks after each hike or camping trip.
Keep going to the gym at least once a week, as well. Not only will this help maintain your fitness, but it will also keep you in the habit of going, so your fitness routine will transition indoors more easily in the fall.