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Working out and getting in shape are great activities to do outdoors. While some of us prefer to exercise in a gym or at home, working out in the fresh air and cool mornings or afternoons can be refreshing experiences. Additionally, avoiding expensive gym memberships is always a good reason to primarily exercise outside. The summer afternoon heat or cold winter mornings/afternoons may cause problems, but there are other avenues to pursue during those periods. If you’re looking to change up your outdoor exercise routine, below are a few of the best exercises you can do outdoors without any equipment.
Yoga is a perfect activity for exercises you can perform outside. Yoga is great for several reasons including it can help you to lose weight, add variety to your routine, and is less prone to injury than other exercises such as running/jogging. Those who practice yoga usually have better eating habits. It teaches you to appreciate your body and treat it right to reach peak efficiency. Furthermore, yoga allows you to easily change your routine by mixing in different poses, depending on your mood. Finally, it is very easy on the body. Running or jogging can be very jarring and cause joint and ligament issues. Yoga is great at improving flexibility and even making you more resistant to future injury.
Push-ups are best known for strengthening your upper body, working on the triceps, pectoral muscles, and shoulders. If done properly they will also strengthen your lower back and abdominal muscles. What does “done properly” mean? Lay flat on your stomach, placing your palms on the floor below your shoulders and with the balls of your feet on the ground. When you lift yourself up, your body should never bend, and your elbows should be pointing to your feet. Pushups are beneficial to our health in a great number of ways: it can even help us sustain a correct posture, preventing back pains and injuries.
Pro Tip: While lying on the floor and before pushing up, your toes should be stabilized on the floor to support the lower part of your body; your abs and glutes should be tightened. Once you’re ready, you can flatten your back and lift.
Canoeing or Kayaking allows you to have some fun on the water while you improve your health by working out the entire upper body and providing good cardio (if you want). Paddling your canoe burns approximately 350 calories for every hour spent paddling at roughly 2 mph. This can be scaled up to increase the number of calories burned per workout session. Additionally, if you are outside the canoeing or kayaking, you can bet the weather is spectacular. Overall, kayaking provides a better workout at slower speeds, but canoeing is the better choice if you intend to push yourself.
All you need to do is stand up straight, stare at something in front of you, place your hands on your hips, then step forward with one foot and bend down, by bending a leg forward until the other knee almost touches the ground. Both knees must be bent to a 90 degrees angle. You should do this at least 10 times for each leg.
You may also do this with weights. Stand up straight and hold the weights in your hands, keep your arms down so your hands are right next to your hips, then step forward and bend down with your leg just like you would with regular lunges. This strengthens your legs, improves balance, improves tone, and functions as a spine-resting exercise.
Place your forearms on the ground next to each other with your elbows pointing to your toes. Your toes should be touching the ground. Now, hold your body in a board-like line for 120 seconds. There are a variety of plank positions including extending your arms as opposed to resting on your forearms. What’s important is that this exercise is excellent at working out your entire core.
Cycling and biking have become popular outdoor exercises over the past decade. These activities provide a low-impact exercise that allows you to burn calories and improve cardio without the jarring impact of jogging. Biking is very easy on your back, knees, and ankles as you strengthen your legs, hips, and glutes. There are various forms of biking. Mountain biking requires you to be alert for shifting terrain and other obstacles, but it provides an excellent workout that is not the “same old same old”. Most beginners choose to start with a flat path before moving into mountain biking. Cycling usually consists of riding on flat paths such as roads, but ensure you are aware of vehicles that may not be paying as much attention as they should.
If you are interested in the idea of biking but prefer to do it at home, take a look at our picks for the best stationary bikes to lose weight here.
Squats are a common exercise in gyms, especially when combined with weights. Fortunately, you can get just as good of a workout without the weights. Performing a proper squat is somewhat of an art. To perform the squat correctly, sit up straight, and keep your feet parallel to your shoulders and your head up. Your arms should be straight out in front of you like you’re driving a car. Once in this position, bend at the knees until they reach a 90 degrees angle. Hold that position for a few seconds before returning to the starting position. You can do squats indefinitely to improve tone and work out a variety of muscle groups throughout the body including your core and back. Squats also are great at helping perform everyday activities such as bending over to get something from that low shelf that always gives you trouble.
One of the best outdoor exercises for your abs, sit ups are a tried and true exercise to work into your routine (see How Many Situps a Day to Lose Belly Fat). Although everyone is familiar with a sit up, many do them improperly. Poor form can lead to minimizing your efforts and potentially straining a muscle or injuring the back. Common technique issues include rocking, arching the back, lifting the feet off the ground, and not completing the entire motion before starting another rep.
To correctly perform a sit up, lie flat on the back and place your feet flat next to each other. Keep your heels as close to the glutes as possible. With your back flat on the ground, lift up into a sitting position, keeping your back straight. Now, slowly lower your torso back to the ground to the starting position. Keep your hands behind your head or straight out in front of you. Don’t use them to push off of the ground.
Very similar to sit ups, crunches are a more specific exercise for your abdominal muscles. To properly execute a crunch, lie on your back with your feet on the ground next to each other. Keep your hands behind your head with your elbows to the side but slightly pointing in (toward your knees). Gently pull your abdominals in and curl up to lift your head and shoulders off the floor. Once you reach your apex, hold the position for a few seconds and return to the starting position. Ensure you don’t pull your neck or point your elbows in as you curl in from the starting position. This exercise should be performed slowly to get the maximum benefit.
This is a great exercise to perform at almost any park. You will use one of the park benches to perform this exercise and get a great upper-body workout. To properly perform a park bench dip, place your back to the bench and your hands palms down facing forward (toward you) on the edge of the bench. Place your feet out in front of you and slowly lower your body into the sitting position without touching the ground. Slowly extend your arms to their full length and repeat. This is an excellent exercise for your upper and lower arms, glutes, and thighs. The lower you go with your torso, the more weight you will have to pull up and the more your arms and shoulders will build strength and muscle.
If you’re interested, you can view our exercise equipment related comparisons and reviews here.