7 fun outdoor activities that will help you burn calories

7 fun outdoor activities that will help you burn calories

By Christine VanDoren

Getting ‘out there’ is a great way to boost your mood and metabolism

Did you know exercising outside for just five minutes can raise your self-esteem?

There are many physical, emotional and social benefits to outdoor activities. When you enjoy being outside, you’re more likely to stay there and move more. So say goodbye to those old, boring four walls. Instead, grab some water and sunscreen, and learn how to let Mother Nature be your personal trainer.

What are the advantages of exercising outdoors instead of indoors?

  • It’s free

One of the top reasons people say they don’t exercise is because it’s too expensive. It makes sense if you count expensive gym memberships or even home equipment. Why not use what’s right outside your doorstep? Many parks have installed circuit workout stations. Enjoy a change of scenery running on trails or along the beach at little or no cost.

  • Easy access to sunshine

Natural light stimulates production of vitamin D, which immune systems need to stay strong. Just by getting 15 minutes of sunlight a day, your body will make enough vitamin D to sustain the right amount of calcium in your bones. Sunshine also helps your body know when to produce melatonin, the hormone that helps you sleep.

  • A better mood

When sunlight hits the retinas in your eyes, it triggers the release of serotonin in the brain, and this hormone boosts your mood. Without enough serotonin, you risk conditions like depression. This is especially true in the winter months when you are likely to spend less time outside.

7 ways that you can exercise outside now to help lose weight. Try number 4.

1. Hiking

The American Hiking Society says hiking has numerous physical and emotional benefits. Outdoor exercise is always good for you, no matter where you are.

2. Biking

Bicycling is low-impact, making it an excellent choice for people who can’t do high-impact exercise. Not only can you get an intense workout, but it’s also transportation. Riding your bike saves money when compared with driving.

3. Interval training

Interval training combines 10 to 30 seconds of intense activity with a minute or two of a less-intense activity. For example, you can combine walking with short sprints. Alternate between walking and running to burn more calories than either activity alone.

4. Kayaking and canoeing

Like biking, canoeing and kayaking are low-impact activities appropriate for many people. There is reduced wear on joints and tissues, and both activities improve muscle strength in the back, arms, shoulders, and chest. They also help strengthen the lower body, since the legs and core are used to turn a kayak or canoe. In addition, these water-based workouts can help shake you out of a funk. They can be either serene and meditative or intense and exhilarating.

5. Swimming

Swimming is a healthy, low-impact exercise for people of all ages. Paddling around in the water uses all the body's muscles. Because it’s fun and can be done in beautiful locations, swimming can also help ease stress and anxiety.

6. Playing sports

One of the most significant advantages of playing outdoor sports is improving your social health. Whether you’re involved in team sports or solo competitions, you interact with other people. Sports like soccer enhance cardiovascular fitness and coordination. As with all outdoor activities, light exposure to sunlight helps the immune system. Running bases or chasing a volleyball burns lots of calories, reducing your risk for conditions like obesity.

7. Calisthenics

Calisthenics is a form of low-impact bodyweight training. It can be done anywhere, so you can do your workout on a mat in the grass at the local park. Find a playground where you can do pullups on the monkey bars. There might even be circuit workout stations where you can do dips and pushups. Use a jump rope in your backyard while you soak up some sunshine and breathe in the fresh air.

No matter your age or physical condition, there’s an outdoor activity that's perfect for you. Enjoy low-impact water fun like swimming and kayaking or land-based recreation such as biking or calisthenics. Your bones, heart and muscles will be stronger for it. Outdoor activities will also keep you happier and more focused. So now that you’re armed with a variety of exercises that connect you with the great outdoors, it’s the perfect time to get out there and burn some calories.