You are the type of person who wants to have a fit body, and keep it that way.
Whether you are already close to where you want to be, or want to begin that awesome journey, you also want to be able to spend what precious free time you have being in the great outdoors. We understand you! Knowing that you are able to combine the two is a great relief, but most people don’t realize just how much fun and easy it can be. This post is filled with tips on how you can get fit outside, with pretty much nothing but your body and the tools that nature will provide you with
Don’t Knock the Basics—Hike the Planet
Hiking is a very underrated activity, especially in terms of getting in shape. Most people have the wrong idea of what a hike can be, and don’t realize the side benefits of hiking. Here is a hiking program which will literally whip you into shape, whether you are a beginner or a pro. Pick a place to hike that’s not very far from you. If you have time to go a couple of days a week, that’s awesome—though we recommend picking a day on the weekend for hiking, and trying out one or more of the other activities during the week (we know how precious your time can be!)
Once you have your spot, make sure you know your path. Having a fitness tracker can be awesome for this because it will give you all your information and show you how much you are improving on subsequent hikes. Pick a length of trail which you will be comfortable with (we choose 2 hours to start), and go to it. If you are feeling adventurous, take a backpack, and don’t try to make it light. Put a couple of cold water bottles in the pack and even add a few more heavy things if you want to work harder. (Tip: Fill a couple of bottles halfway the night before, lie them down in the freezer, and take them out and fill them the rest of the way up right before your hike. You’ll have ice-cold water for the whole trek!) Want to chill out in the middle of the hike? Take a blanket and a book, enjoy it. Make sure, though, that you aren’t sauntering, but hiking at a steady pace.
If you head out on a trail and turn around and come back the same way, you most likely will be going up the first part, and coming down for the second half. This is great, using lots of muscle groups and burning those calories. Over the course of a few months, you will be stunned at how much easier it becomes, and how you can tackle more and more difficult trails with ease. It’s amazing the progress you can make, and how fat will melt off your body. Just don’t have that celebratory cheesecake at the end!
You Can Run
Most people think about shaping up by running. Well, they are right! Running is a great activity for “leaning up” and getting fit. It does not have to be boring, though. We have a few types of running for you which we think you will love.
You have probably heard of HIIT, and most gym trainers swear by it. Why do that on a machine that simulates hills, though, when you can actually run on hills? Find a local area that has some hills and run there. You will be surprised at how fast you get used to it.
Just remember: Sprint up the hills and rest on the way down. You’ll get double the fun and higher energy output that way. Also, there are lots of cool apps for your phone, which you can take with you. I had one that simulated running from zombies while listening to my Bluetooth headphones to some killer running-music. Trust me, it got my heart beating in the fat burning zone!
A second way to make that sprint work for you is to do a resisted sprint. This type of sprint involves adding resistance to your running. Our favorite is the parachute resistance sprint. You can get a personal resistance parachute at most large sports stores. It clips onto a belt, and the faster you run, the more resistance it gives you. Try doing a 10-minute warmup jog, then alternate 100-foot sprints with and without the chute. Do 12 of those. Cool it down with a 10-minute walk. As you get better, you can add in additional sprints, or make them longer. It’s pretty great to do it on a field instead of asphalt. Try it!
Beat the Beach
The beach can be used for more than just a great tan or having fun in the water, and you don’t need a Venice Beach style gym out there to get in great shape! Crabwalking is an exercise that will be fun and give you that pleasant muscle burn that you are craving!
Here’s how it works. Sit with your knees bent in front of you and hands just behind your hips, then lift your hips and scuttle around on your hands and feet. You can combine it with other things to be more interesting. If you are at the beginning of the workout, do it on dry sand, at least 20 feet from the water. That sand will sink and make it more difficult for you to move. Then crabwalk over to the shoreline, and try to move in and out of the surf zone. Make it a game to avoid the waves—follow it out when it recedes and rush back towards safety from that next wave! After you are tired out, you can always take a light jog along the water’s edge to finish out your workout.
Another favorite beach activity is backpedal running. You guessed it, you run backwards on the beach. You have never laughed so hard as when you are running next to the water and begin to veer off and start splashing. It’s a great activity, and you can combine it with forward running to get a pretty much full-body workout. If you are up for it, take some hand weights with you to get that upper body working as well!
Be a Volunteer
There are LOTS of things you can do to help the world out, get outside, and stay in great shape at the same time! For example, find your local animal shelter and offer to walk a number of their dogs. It is a crazy-good resistance workout (just wait until you have four dogs pulling you along!) and you will have the added benefit of doing something great for society. If you aren’t really a dog person, offer to clean up your local park! It’s not all about picking up trash. They have all sorts of things that need doing, such as picking up mulch, dead tree limbs, cutting dead wood and bushes, and much more. Often, the physical labor gives you that good sweat and tiredness which you are looking for, and in the end you have helped your local community.
Moving rocks is a great workout, and a place with lots of rocks is all you need, except for maybe some gloves. It’s great if it’s a park or place with trails that need to be cleared. If you are clearing a trail, you might want to line the rocks up on the side. If it’s just a place where you have lots of rocks you can move around, make shapes, build your own artistic rock sculptures, or make yourself a bench for when you are done.
Make sure that you lift with your legs and not your back, and don’t try to get one that is too big for you. If you find a larger one, but want to move it, try prying it out of the ground if it needs it, and roll it to where you want it. This activity is surprisingly fun, and if you let your imagination run wild, you can make lots of cool things! Combining this with jogging, for example while cleaning a trail, can do wonders for your body. And if you are really hardcore? Find a local rock quarry and see if they can let you do underwater rock sprints. That’s an elite entry, but as brag-worthy as it gets.
Remember when you were a kid and played tag? Remember how breathless you were and how fun it was, and how much you laughed? We do too, and tag is a great game to play, while at the same time getting in shape. Get 2 or 3 people who are awesome like you, because, let’s face it, if you are going out to play tag, you are awesome! Or, get 10 or 20, the more the merrier! Get out there and play tag. Pick an area with lots of trees but not a lot of underbrush. Trees make it more challenging and you will need to cut around them more, helping to work on your lateral motion. A half hour of playing hardcore tag will do it. If everyone can handle more, then have at it!
Get Outside, and Get in Shape!
Not only does getting outside and burning some calories help your physical state, but there are many mental and emotional benefits as well. The increased vitamin D from the sunshine and the enjoyment of fresh air and being in nature are priceless. Many studies have been done which indicate that working out in a green area/zone leads to greater strength and endurance, more energy afterwards, and a better mood, and it inspires more creative thinking compared to similar energy output in an indoor environment. So go out, see the green, and try it!
What’s your favorite way to get fit outdoors? Add your best tips in the comments below!