Great Outdoors Month is coming to an end, but the long summer days ahead are beckoning. Try one of these popular workouts al fresco and get your blood pumping without overstressing your body. Aside from better circulation, you'll improve your flexibility, strengthen your muscles, lungs and heart, all while boosting your mood! Head outside in the early morning or late afternoon hours to avoid peak heat times. Don't forget to apply sunscreen, bring your sunglasses and most importantly, a water bottle for your workout.
Watch: The No Excuse Workout
Dust off your helmet and go for a spin around the neighborhood or a local park. If you haven't ridden in a few months, make sure to check for any noticeable holes or low air in your tires. Take your bicycle into the shop for maintenance if needed. Otherwise, challenge yourself to go up small inclines and enjoy the warm breeze as you pedal your way to a stronger heart. Cycling is a perfect outdoor exercise for those with knee issues as well, and much more gentle on the joints than running or walking long distances.
Whether it's in your backyard or at a community garden, you can dig, plant, rake, or weed your way to a sunnier disposition and quality of life. Gardening gives you the opportunity to work muscle groups that are left typically ignored. But don't be fooled, gardening is tough work, so be smart while you're doing it. Make sure to take hourly breaks, wear protective clothing and a sun hat, drink plenty of non-sugary fluids (it's best to stick to water), and make sure your tetanus vaccination is up to date since bacteria that carry tetanus can thrive in soil and enter the body through cracks in the skin.
One of the easiest ways to cool off during hot, summer days is to take a dip in the pool. Take advantage of adult swim times at public pools to squeeze in as many laps as you can do or sign up for a water aerobics session for a joint-friendly workout with built-in resistance. Swimming and water exercises can help you stay pain-free, especially if you suffer from arthritis. Always follow safe swimming practices, particularly if you choose to swim in the ocean.
Spend more time in the sun by moving your mat-based Pilates routine outside. If you're a beginner, consult your physician before starting a workout program and take classes with a certified Pilates instructor to learn the correct form, flow, and exact movements and sequences. A practice that dates back to the late 1800s, Pilates has been shown to reduce stress, promote a healthy immune system, improve posture, and relieve back pain, among many other benefits. Try this beginner's Pilates workout to get started.
If running is too demanding for your body, climb steps and walk instead to stay active. It's one of the simple ways you can boost your health every day - all you need is a water bottle and comfortable walking sneakers. Aim for 10,000 steps per day or walk for at least 30 minutes (taking short breaks if you need to) in order to reap the benefits. Build up your routine and keep making new goals for yourself once you've accomplished a new milestone. If you get bored, change your walking route, enlist a friend to walk with you, and use a pedometer to track your steps.
Remember, no matter what you're doing outside, listen to your body. If you feel faint or lightheaded, find a cool spot with some shade to sit in for a few minutes. Make sure to stay hydrated and start out slow, especially if you're just starting a new routine or getting back into exercise after a few months off. If you have any questions about starting a workout, talk to your doctor before doing it.