Feel too busy to get in a good workout most days? We feel it too. While outdoor exercise is extremely important, it also feels like one more thing we have to add to our already-too-busy lives.
Thankfully, we’ve got 10 genius hacks to help you! Not only can you pick just 4 of these to get in outdoor exercise, each of them is extremely beneficial to your health. Some of them will help you break up a sedentary workday. Others will help you get outside into natural light in the morning. Some will encourage high heart rates, and others flexibility.
Why add these exercise hacks?
Not only is exercise great for our muscles, hearts, and brains, outdoor-activity specifically has been shown to improve mood and depression (1). What’s more, if the sun is shining, your body will make Vitamin D, an immune-stimulating vitamin. The exercise itself also provides immune-enhancing benefits, so it’s a double shot of health for your body (2).
Ready to get going? Just choose 3 or 4 of these each day to get 20 minutes per day. You can stick with the same ones day after day, or mix it up. But, if you’re not already intentionally moving every day, this can help you get started (or add to what you’re already doing). You’ve got this!
Got 5 or 10 minutes in the morning? If so, get yourself out into the sunshine while it’s not too hot, and start jumping! Even 5 minutes of jump rope can get your heartrate up, give you as good a workout as running, plus work your abs and arms.
If you haven’t jumped rope in a while, don’t worry if it feels impossible at first. It’s tough. But, keep trying. Before you know it, you’ll be able to put 100 jumps in a row without stopping. Also, you can mix it up! Try jumping on both feet together, running in place, one foot at a time, scissoring front to back, scissoring side to side, and more.
Are there hills in your neighborhood, an adjacent one, or on the way to work? If hills are readily available, walking or hiking them is an incredibly effective workout.
Not only does it provide cardiovascular benefits, but walking uphill strengthens muscles similar to resistance training. If you’ve got ten minutes, try walking up for 6 minutes, and return back in 4. This is a quick, powerful option!
Got 10 minutes when you return home? You can get a ton accomplished in 10 minutes with high intensity intervals. Try these outside in your yard or patio area:
Squat down and jump up, jumping jacks, lunges, push-ups, high-knee running in place, sit-ups, jumping up with knees to chest, front kicks, back kicks, and others. You can find many high interval workouts online or on apps. These moves are up to twice as effective as running in terms of calorie burn and cardiovascular benefits.
Got a bike? Get on it and head out! A 10-20 minute bike ride can clear your head, make you smile, work your whole-body, and get your heart rate up. You don’t have to have aspirations to be a great cyclist. You can ride around your neighborhood, on a bike path through a park, to and from work, and more. Cycling is a great way to add exercise and enjoy the outdoors.
If you have regular work calls or social calls (with your mom or daughter, perhaps), turn them into walking meetings! If you’re able, walk while you talk. Many of us spend 10 minutes or more on phone calls that could take place indoors or out. Take advantage of this time and work your body while you talk!
If you’re a parent or grandparent, you can use a stroller to your advantage. Both you and your child can enjoy the sights and sounds of the outdoors when you go for a walk. What’s more, if you’re able to add uphill walking, you’ll get a great stroller workout. It can also be a wonderful time for talking to your child, counting stop signs, fire hydrants, mailboxes, and more.
Do you know of a beautiful park or open space in your town? Many of them have great walking trails or sidewalks. Whether you see geese, squirrels, kids, sunrises, or others on your walk, you will enjoy many benefits of being in a natural setting. Figure out how to fit this into your day, whether you choose one that’s in route to your work, errands, or other activities.
Many towns and cities have outdoor stadiums, amphitheaters, or stairs that are available to public use. If you can find one, take advantage of it and walk up and down the stairs or bleachers. This will give you a chance of scenery and a change of pace!
Just like walking during your meetings, you can also walk outside during your breaks. As much as you can, reduce your daytime sitting by standing, or even better, walking. Not only will taking a short 5-10 walk break outside increase your alertness and focus, it supports cardiovascular health (3).
Did you know that flexibility is vital to overall health and cardiovascular health? Did you also know that adults naturally lose trunk flexibility every year they age unless they proactively work on it? It’s true! Combat inflexibility by focusing on stretching or yoga. Even better, do it outside while the sun comes up. Not only will this support your physical health, but getting natural light early in the morning supports your sleep-wake cycle.
Outdoor exercise is great for your mind, body, and soul. Choose to exercise with others, while talking on the phone, or by yourself. Add exercise during sunrise, during the day to break up sedentary hours, after dinner, or whenever you can. Most importantly, choose activities you enjoy. Make this summer your most active summer!