Now that the weather is finally warming up, it’s time to take your workouts outside. A study published in Extreme Physiology & Medicine concluded that, “Outdoor natural environments may provide some of the best all-around health benefits by increasing physical activity levels with lower levels of perceived exertion.” The study also found that exercising outdoors can reduce stress, restore mental fatigue, and improve both your mood and self-esteem. Now that we know some of the physical and mental health benefits of exercising outdoors, here are five of the best outdoor workouts that you can do this summer.
Hill sprints are one of the most effective forms of speed training for athletes. They’re ideal for football players and any athletes who are looking to improve their speed, coordination, and explosiveness for their sport. And the best part is that hill sprints can be done pretty much anywhere. Depending on where you live, you can do them on roads that have an incline, or on grassy hills.
This high-intensity interval training (HIIT) Hill-sprint workout will burn a significant number of calories in a relatively short amount of time. Before you do this outdoor cardio workout, make sure to warm up with a five-to-ten-minute light jog. Then sprint up a hill at 50% effort and walk back down the hill as active rest before you complete your next sprint. Continue sprinting three more times at 50% effort, and then sprint at 75% effort for sprints five through eight and at 90%-100% effort for sprints nine through 12. At the end of your workout, do another five-to-ten-minute light jog to cool down. As a general rule of thumb, make sure to always warm up and cool down before and after you exercise.
100 Yard Push-Up Run
This 100 Yard Push-Up Run will enhance your strength and endurance, while working your whole body. Start at one end of a field and run at 80% effort, dropping to do 10 push-ups every 20 yards. When you complete your 10 push-ups, sprint the next 20 yards at 80% of your max. Then repeat this exercise going back the way you came. Once you get more comfortable doing the 100 Yard Push-Up Run, you can make it more challenging as the summer goes on by increasing the number of push-ups that you do every 20 yards. By adding push-ups to your sprints, you’ll develop your scapular muscles and your rotator-cuff muscles to stabilize your shoulders.
Stand-Up Paddle Boarding
You can always bring your home gym outside and lift weights in the sun, but for those of you who live near the water and are looking to change up your exercise regimen this summer, give stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) a shot. Stand-up paddle boarding is a great cross-training tool for athletes since it’s low-impact and provides fitness benefits such as dynamic balance, endurance, and core muscle strength.
It’s probably a good idea to rent a stand-up paddle board and paddle (or borrow a friend’s board and paddle for the day) and give it a try before you commit to buying your own. Some general tips if you have never done stand-up paddle boarding before are to use a leash, make sure that you’re facing the right way, and paddle with your core. Depending on how hard you want to push yourself, you can burn around 305 to 430 calories per hour by paddling in a casual fashion, or you can burn anywhere from 713 to 1,125 calories per hour by racing your friends.
Even if you’ve been doing indoor cycling all winter and spring, getting outside and riding your bike will provide a much-needed mental boost, according to a study. The study showed that as little as five minutes of exercise in a park, nature trail, or other green space benefits your mental health and provides greater feelings of revitalization, increased energy, and positive engagement compared with exercising indoors. You might also burn more calories cycling outdoors as another study found that outdoor cycling allowed cyclists to exercise at a higher intensity than they did indoors, despite similar environmental conditions and perceived exertion. Cycling outdoors also makes you have to really engage your core, too. That’s because you need to balance the bike when you stand to pedal outdoors as opposed to spin class indoors where the bike is stationary and locked in place.
Before you do this outdoor Cycling Workout, make sure to warm up by cycling at an easy pace for five to 10 minutes. Then you’ll cycle at a moderate intensity for 10 to 15 minutes. For the next 20 minutes after that, you’ll ride up a hill as quickly as possible with maximum intensity and rest one to two minutes at the top of the hill before coasting back down. To complete the cycling workout, you’ll cycle at a moderate intensity for ten minutes. Then make sure to cool down at the end of your workout by cycling for five to 10 minutes at an easy pace.
Yoga can help athletes strengthen muscles and develop skills that can be used in their sports. Elite climbers, cyclists, runners, and skiers often do yoga since it not only offers a challenging full-body workout, but it also helps them build core strength, improves their balance, and allows them to become more flexible over time.
A couple of yoga poses that you should familiarize yourself with are the tree pose, which builds core strength and improves balances, and the pigeon pose, which will stretch your hip flexors and back muscles. To do the tree pose, stand with your back straight and find a spot to focus your gaze. Then shift your weight onto your left foot and raise your right foot to press against your left inner ankle, calf, or inner thigh. Just make sure not to press your foot into your knee. After that, bring your hands together at your heart, slowly raise your arms like the branches of a tree, and balance for several breaths. Then release and repeat on the other side.
To do the pigeon pose, which will loosen up your hips and back muscles, start on the ground. Then slide your left foot back so that the top of your leg presses into the floor. Slide your right knee forward and out to align with your right wrist. Then sit up straight, pressing your hands into the floor, and lean backward into a slight bend.
If you appreciate the physical and mental benefits that yoga has to offer, it might be a good idea to attend a regular outdoor yoga class with your teammates this summer.