Nomad Life

10 Ultimate Exercises for Outdoors to Keep Fit and Healthy

These days, the weather is slowly turning. At least here in Denver. Sure, we can expect snow until April, but at least we have those 60-degree days sprinkled in. If you live in a snowy state like me, I imagine that you don’t need convincing to escape your cabin fever and get outside this spring. What might need some convincing? Leaving the gym and discovering some exercises for outdoors. It’s natural to bask in the comfort of our gym or at-home workout routines, but dabbling in exercises for the outdoors can be refreshing for the body and the brain. And I know what you’re thinking, but no, outdoor exercise does not mean that you have to become a runner, hiker, or climber. There are so many ways to get your body moving outdoors whether you’re an exercise junkie or a beginner. Either way, get ready to breathe (or gulp) in that fresh air as you shake up your fitness routine with some outdoor exercise. 


Why You Should Discover Exercises for Outdoors?

Change is hard and switching up your exercise routine can feel disorienting, but there is a reason that people do it. Beyond staying in shape, there are additional health benefits to outdoor exercise. According to Cedric Bryant, a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine and Ph.D., exposure to the sun increases our vitamin D which causes a wave of health benefits including; reducing inflammation, enhancing our mood, and supporting our immune systems (“6 Reasons Why Outdoor Exercise is Essential”). Typically, my outdoor exercise is taking a walk and I can actually notice results right away. Walking in the Colorado sun never fails to boost my mood (and honestly productivity). It has become my secret weapon when feeling burnt out from the day. Other benefits of outdoor exercise include that it reduces stress, depression, and anxiety (Bryant). Not to mention, outdoor exercise is often more social than a gym trip which forces accountability, it can be more challenging for your body, more enjoyable, and typically it’s free which makes it a great option for your wallet (Bryant). 

10 Exercises for Outdoors:

1. Walking

In Denver, we are spoiled with parks at every turn. I’m talking big, well-maintained, gorgeous parks with endless walking paths that take you out of the hustle and bustle of city life. I encourage you to call up your friends, skip the happy hour, and go on a gossip stroll through the park every once in a while. My favorite parks in Denver include Washington Park and Cheeseman Park. But if neither is close to you or you’ve been there and done that, then check out this map of Denver parks. If you’re not in Denver, head to your city’s parks and recreation page to find the perfect park for your walking journey. Another thing I like to do is walk through my favorite neighborhoods while admiring the gorgeous homes. Toss in those earbuds and turn on your favorite podcast. 

2. Running

Yes, it made the list. I find that running is one of the most polarizing exercises out there. You either love it or hate it. But if running is somewhat piquing your interest then I encourage you to give it a go. You can start slow with a beginner running program. I also think it’s nice to have an end goal to keep you motivated, so signing up for a race can be helpful. For a complete running program, you can download the free Couch to 5k app that takes you through several weeks of training until eventually, you run a 5k. It might also be nice to run with a companion to keep you motivated and make the run more enjoyable. Yes, that includes your dog. Head to your favorite park to make it happen! 

3. Hiking

Hiking can be a great way to take your walk to the next level both in scenery and difficulty. It also challenges your body naturally. Think “changing the incline on your treadmill” energy. Of course, the intensity of hiking that you do depends on where you live, but don’t feel down if you’re not near a mountain range. I encourage you to check out AllTrails to search for hiking near you. Keep an open mind, I think you’ll be surprised by what you discover. 

4. Biking

I bought my current bicycle for $50 on Facebook Marketplace and have used it for 2 years. What I’m trying to say is that you don’t have to spend a fortune and become a mountain biker or cyclist for this activity to be effective. A nice ride through your favorite neighborhood streets or park should suffice. See where your city falls in the rankings for most bike-friendly, then slap on your helmet and hit the streets…P.S. in Denver you can safely take the Cherry Creek Trail along Speer Ave to just about anywhere in the city. I often use it to run small errands and meet friends out to avoid parking downtown. Who doesn’t love a way to kill two birds with one stone? 

5. Roller Skating/Blading

Do it for TikTok. Although I’ve never roller skated, I can tell you that rollerblading is most certainly a cardio workout. Sure, simply trying not to fall increases your heart rate, but when you’re blading it’s also a full-body cardio workout. With your legs moving and arms pumping it’s almost like you’re running. Never mind, I don’t want to spoil it. You can rollerblade or skate pretty much anywhere you can ride a bike or take a walk, try to avoid obstacles like cracks in the sidewalks though…

6. Yoga

I mean this activity was literally meant to be done in nature right? If you live in a larger city like me, then I can guarantee you that you’ll find a yoga studio offering outdoor classes. Oftentimes yoga studios will even host special events on rooftops or brewery patios. If you’re not looking to pay for a yoga class, then this is one you can do right in your backyard or even on your apartment balcony. It doesn’t require a whole lot of space! In college, I would do my flows on our back porch that faced the alley filled with dumpsters and rats. It doesn’t have to be perfect and your eyes are closed most of the time anyway. You can still feel the breeze and sun. Anyway, all you have to do is head to YouTube for a guided flow. Check out my guide on how to work out from home to see my YouTube yogi suggestions. If you’re in Denver, check out The River for their summer donation-based rooftop yoga classes.  

7. No Equipment Bodyweight Exercises

Similar to yoga, many of these exercises can be done just about anywhere. You can do an interval workout at your local park where you run/walk for a bit then step off to the side for some squats and lunges. Don’t forget to take advantage of park benches too…tricep dips anyone? Another nice option for these bodyweight exercises for outdoors is going to a high school or college track/football field. Yes, these exist in larger cities, not just the burbs. Many are open to the public on certain days/times. Here, you can use the track, football field, and bleachers to get your heart pumping. Feel free to step out onto your balcony and use YouTube once again. 

8. Join a Rec. League

Volo Sports is an organization that provides sports leagues for adults 21+ in 10 cities across the U.S. You can also check out your city’s parks and recreation page. Joining a recreational league does not mean that you have to have any skills. Often the leagues are split between “fun” and “more serious” so there’s no frustration or fear. Not only does joining a team sport keep you accountable for your exercise, but it’s also a chance to make some friends. Sports offered by Volo in Denver include bocce, cornhole, kickball, flag football, mini golf, soccer, basketball, and volleyball. 

9. Play Tennis (or Pickleball)

Last year, I bought 2 tennis rackets and tennis balls for about $40 at Walmart. Next, all you have to do is find a tennis court. Again, you can lean on your city’s parks and recreation for this. Also, your apartment complex may have tennis (or pickleball) courts that you’ve never even known about. Tennis and pickleball are exercises for outdoors that provide some great cardio. I use the tennis courts at Washington Park in Denver. If you’re looking to avoid crowds the courts at Bible Park in South Denver are always empty and have lights so you can play at night. 

10. Water Sports

This includes paddle boarding, kayaking, canoeing, whitewater rafting, swimming etc. Kayaking is one of my parents’ favorite exercises for outdoors. They’ve owned kayaks (in Ohio) for about 10 years now and get out on the water as much as possible. However, you don’t need to buy a kayak to try out this activity. I challenge you to find any body of water near you and I bet there is a spot to rent all types of watercraft. Rentals exist in several Denver parks and in the mountains on reservoirs and rivers. My favorite place to paddle board is on Horsetooth Reservoir in Fort Collins. If you’re into swimming, head to public pools early in the morning to avoid crowds and take advantage of the lap lanes. Otherwise, look for gyms with outdoor pools for a more private swimming experience.  

As you can see the number of exercises for outdoors is endless. Sure, you probably have to step outside of your comfort zone for most of them, but that’s just another opportunity to grow. You can try many of these activities with a friend (including your dog) to help take the edge off. It’s also motivating to think about the added benefits that exercising outdoors can give you. The best bang for your pain if you ask me…Now, choose 3 exercises for outdoors from this list. Try each of them out and report back to me with your favorites! 

Sources

Bryant, Cedric X. “6 Reasons Why Outdoor Exercise Is Essential.” U.S. News and World Report, 5 Apr. 2021, https://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/articles/outdoor-exercise-health-benefits. Accessed 28 Feb. 2023.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *