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Exercise

Creating a lighter, healthier you is a multi-step process. One of the most important steps, and the main focus of this section, is exercise. Here we explore everything from the benefits of exercise to how much and how often it is necessary to promote weight loss.

10 Outdoor Workout Ideas (Equipment Optional!)

Break standard, traditional indoor workouts with these fun outside workout ideas!

10 Outdoor Workout Ideas (Equipment Optional!)


Are you dreading the continuous, yet stationary strides on the treadmill? What about the crowded weight room at the gym? If you can relate, it may be time to shake up your workout routine by taking it outside!

Break standard, traditional indoor workouts with fun outside workout ideas! An outdoor workout can be just as effective, if not more, as an indoor workout - even without workout equipment.

Curious how you can change up your workout by taking it outside? Discover how to both enjoy nature while exercising with these top outdoor workouts. 

10 Fun Outdoor Workout Ideas for Everyone

While both going to the gym and outdoor exercise can provide a good workout, taking physical activity outside offers the additional benefits of being in nature, fresh air, and sunlight.

With these fun outdoor workouts, you will be having so much fun, you may forget you are even getting an effective workout in!

1. Hiking

Looking for an outdoor workout with no equipment? Hit a trail to enjoy the beautiful scenery while also getting a cardio and lower body strength training session.

Hiking the great outdoors offers solidarity while promoting aerobic exercise. With hills and high altitudes, the legs can get a solid workout without fussing with a crowded weight room stair stepper. You can go at your own pace and take water (or view) breaks as desired. Hiking can also be a fun workout with your pet that you both will enjoy.

Feeling adventurous or looking for a hiking travel destination? Check out some of the best hikes in the USA. The hike itself may allure you in, but the views will make you want to keep going!

2. Kayaking

Paddling through water can be so calming that you may not even realize you are getting in a solid workout.

Enjoyed as a hobby or competitively, both kayaking and canoeing offer strength training to all upper and lower body muscles. What's more, four hours of kayaking can burn an average of 1,600 calories!

But besides staying in shape, spending hours rowing in the great outdoors can reduce stress and promote mental health.

3. Paddleboarding

Similar to kayaking, paddle boarding requires a paddle to maneuver through the water. But instead of sitting down in a kayak, you are standing atop the board.

Standing tall, keeping the core tight, and balancing on a paddleboard activate the body's essential muscles. And like kayaking, steering through the water requires swinging your arms to manipulate the paddle.

Truly, stand-up paddleboarding is a full-body workout that further supports stability and improves posture making it a top outdoor exercise to enjoy in the summer.

4. Group Sports

Get competitive with a game of sand volleyball the next time you hit the beach. This fun workout will not feel like one as you compete with a large group of friends and family.

In addition to volleyball, compete in other favorite group sports at other local fields and courts. These may include tennis, basketball, softball, and kickball. These fields can be found at local parks or can be played in open spaces with minimal equipment.

5. Biking

Skip out on the stationary bike inside and get to peddling in the great outdoors for a refreshing workout! Biking is an excellent leg-training and cardio workout.

Hit the trails, your neighborhood, or seek out hills for an even greater and more intense outdoor workout! Riding an e-bike can help provide more ease up steep hills if needed and still provide an outdoor workout even if a regular bike is not best suited for your health needs.

You can even make it a point to bike to work or anywhere else you feel comfortable doing so for an outdoor workout that serves a practical purpose.

6. Swimming

Grab a suit and head to your favorite swimming spot for a fun in the sun outdoor exercise!

Swimming not only burns hundreds of calories but targets muscle groups throughout the entire body. It helps tone and build strength without the stressful impacts of weights, as the water is gentle on joints and muscles.

A low-impact swimming workout can complement or replace laps in the water while still offering health benefits as well. For instance, you can jog in place, practice flutter kicks, and jump explosively in the water.

7. Walking or Running

Tie up your favorite walking or running shoes and get out the door! Walking can be accomplished almost anywhere without any additional equipment.

And walking is one simple exercise with proven benefits. These include strengthened leg muscles, improved posture, and reduced risks of chronic diseases. Mood, creativity, self-esteem, and happiness can be boosted as well.

If you want an outdoor workout that is more intense than walking - but still only requires a pair of shoes - running (or a combo of running and walking) can be an efficient outdoor workout. Do not be intimidated to start running - a beginner running checklist can help you get started.

8. Playground Workouts

Skip the indoor gym and head to a park for a fun, no equipment needed outdoor workout!

Total body workouts can be completed using some of the offered playground equipment. (No need to pack and lug around any of your gear!)

Below are details of a full-body outdoor circuit workout that targets the lower and upper body. It also is fast-moving to put the body in a fat-burning zone.

Move from one exercise to the next with rest in between. Perform two sets of each exercise, resting for 30 seconds between each movement:

30 jumping jacks: Jumping jacks are great to get the heart rate elevated. If available, use a jump rope to truly feel like you are at the playground!

15 bodyweight squats: Using body weight is not only convenient but also effective. Beginners can also practice using the park bench. Sitting and standing using the chair offers safety and helps the person recognize what a proper squatting position should feel like.

10 pushups: Push-ups strengthen the upper body while also targeting the core and lower body. You can also modify the push-up by pushing off a park bench and by bending your knees. The most important thing is focusing on good form rather than trying to knock them out quickly.

Plank for as long as possible: Planks are stationary movements in which the entire body forms a stable, straight line. Start by planting the right and left hands slightly wider than shoulder-width and right and left toes into the ground. While keeping the core, right and left legs tight, hold the plank position for as long as you can.

REST and repeat for a total of 2 to 3 sets.

Also, feel free to switch up playground workout routines. This may include mountain climbers and pull-ups on the monkey bars. Also do lunges, taking turns elevating the right and left foot on the park bench. Set a timer for 20 to 30 minutes and see how many rounds you can complete as well.

9. Outdoor HIIT Workout

Tabata - or high-intensity interval training (HIIT) exercises - offer a different take on traditional exercise. It includes doing short bursts of exercise, about 20 seconds, followed by a short recovery period of about 10 seconds. A total Tabata workout can last 20 minutes or less and can provide a boost in metabolism after exercising.

Many Tabata exercises can easily be done outside in a yard, park, playground, or anywhere else. Keep this option in mind when you want a quick (but beneficial) workout outside without equipment.

10. Yoga in the Outdoors

Grab an optional yoga mat and head outdoors for a 20-minute full-body yoga workout that can be done outside. The combination of moving your body through the yoga poses and being in the sunshine can offer a mental and physical boost that can be soul-refreshing and strengthening.

Fun Outdoor Workouts In Summary

Exercising is not only for inside a gym, especially during the summer months. Enjoying the outdoors while getting in a heart-pumping and muscle toning workout is possible.

If you are by the water, swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding, or sand volleyball are fun ways to enjoy the water and get a workout in. If you are in beautiful scenery or just want to exercise while leaving your front door, consider hiking, biking, walking, or running to take in the views with doing some cardio exercise.

A park, playground, or open spaces can lend space to enjoy bodyweight exercises, a Tabata workout, or an outdoor yoga session.

Christy Zagarella's Photo
Written By Christy Zagarella, MS, RDN. Medically reviewed By Jake Berman, PT, DPT. Published on September 05, 2016. Updated on May 11, 2022.

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