No Gym Membership Required: Challenge Yourself to an Outdoor Workout

Summer is the ideal season to change up your typical fitness routine.

It’s a great time to take advantage of sunny weather and replace your indoor gym session with an outdoor workout. Not only are outdoor environments shown to reduce stress and improve mood and self-esteem, research states that the green color of trees, grass and other plants makes exercise feel easier.

Exercising outdoors is also more efficient in burning calories than indoor exercise. The changing terrain of an outdoor environment requires your body to work harder in order to maintain an efficient work rate.

As you plan your outdoor workout, consider utilizing one of Michigan’s 102 state parks. MI Big Green Gym is an initiative that encourages the use of these green spaces for physical and healthy activities. This summer, the program has partnered with the Michigan Activity Pass to provide free or discounted admission to state parks. Library card holders at participating libraries statewide are eligible for this collaboration between MI Big Green Gym, the Michigan Activity Pass, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, mParks and the DNR .

The price of park admission isn’t the only money you’ll save when you move your fitness routine outdoors. No expensive equipment is required, as outdoor fitness routines utilize terrain and landmarks.

To help you make the most of your outdoor workout, we’ve developed a list of simple exercises you can do in any outdoor environment. Try these exercises individually or combine them to create a fun and challenging circuit.

  • Use a park bench for push-ups. Place your hands on the seat, shoulder-width apart. Extend the lower half of your body into a push-up position. Bend your arms to do a traditional push-up, or keep your arms straight to hold an elevated plank.
  • Shuffle through the sand. Working out in the sand adds tons of resistance. Pick two points, or place two objects approximately five feet apart. Shuffle laterally between these two points.
  • Find a low wall or ledge for a step workout. Step up onto the ledge, do a squat, then step down to the ground. As a low-impact alternative, do toe touches on the edge of the wall.
  • Sprint uphill. Run as quickly as you can halfway up the hill. Lightly jog the remaining distance to the top. Walk down the hill and repeat. Increase the distance you sprint each time until you have sprinted the entirety of the hill.
  • Use a branch for pull-ups. Find a sturdy, low-hanging branch that can support your body weight. Use the branch as a pull up bar. If you’re not a fan of pull-ups, try jumping with bursts of energy— touching the branch with your fingertips each time.

Help add to our list! Tell us your favorite outdoor exercises in the comments.

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Photo Credit: Fit Approach

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