With fall just around the corner, the last thing you want to do is hole up in a dark, sweaty gym for your workout. It may be tempting to skip the sets to grab drinks on the roof or lounge in the grass, but who says you can’t enjoy the sunshine and get your exercise in at the same time? No matter what your workout style is, there are plenty of ways to stay active and get a healthy dose of vitamin D.
For the sunrise yoga goddess: Studies have found that being in nature encourages focus, relaxation, and replenishment of your body’s energy, while deepening the quality of your breath and heightening your bodily awareness. Numerous yoga retreats build their spaces around this concept, but you don’t have to travel further than your own back yard to enjoy these benefits. Search for outdoor classes online via sites like Yoga in Your Park or your city parks website.
For the workout junkie: So you think you have a good gym thing going and you don’t want to mess with your routine. Consider this: doing the same sets with a view can keep your workout fresh. Head to an outdoor track for sprints, and you’ll often find useful bars, hurdles, or sand pits along the side. Or replace the pull-up bar with a playground jungle gym. Even a set of bleachers has a better view than a gym stair stepper, and the different tiers make for some killer plyometric exercises.
For the outdoor adventurer: Research hiking trails in your area. Most will be rated by difficulty, including distance, terrain, and change in elevation. Your glutes are sure to get a workout scrambling up rocks, and everything from your core to your calves have to stay engaged as you navigate rough terrain. As a bonus, many hikes take you by some great rock climbing/bouldering spots, so you might consider taking a chalk bag along. But keep in mind that outdoor climbing can be dangerous and you should always bring a buddy.
For the aquatic aficionados: Swimming is one of the most effective forms of cardio, with the least negative impact on your body. Do a few laps in your local pool or throw on a swimsuit and flip-flops for a day at the beach. (Don’t forget the SPF!) Ocean waves make swimming more interesting and more challenging, and running on sand, even if it’s just to the water’s edge, is no easy feat.
For the dog lover: Take your best four-legged friend on a long walk or jog outdoors. Bigger dogs make great running partners, and even smaller ones will keep you running, tumbling, and throwing. Park days don’t get much cuter than that! Don’t have a dog of your own? Volunteer to walk dogs for your local shelter (extra points for serving the community) and get a great walk in yourself.
For the social butterfly: Try a sports league, join a running club, or walk into a pick-up game in the park. Many cities have an active running community that come together to train and host races year-round. Sports leagues all over the country organize teams through sites like Zogsports or MeetUp, so research the options in your area. If you’re more into partner or team sports, look up the schedule and location of public courts. Go with some friends, or just show up and see who’s looking to make an even-numbered team. Sunshine brings everyone outdoors and working out is the most fun when you can do it with friends, new or old.
For the accidental exerciser: You’d be surprised how much work your body does simply running errands or how much good walking can do for your mood and metabolism. Take a few initial steps to make spending the day outside easy, like wearing comfortable shoes and your chicest sunglasses. Next, find a reason to get out the door and walk, like shopping, exploring a new part of town on foot, or meeting a friend for coffee and parking farther away. From there, spontaneous adventure is what will keep you on the move. Go wherever your mood takes you, bring a friend along, and the end of the day, you’ll have easily hit ten thousand steps on your fitness tracker of choice.