Temperatures are rising and it’s tempting to be outside as much as possible – so maybe you don’t fancy being cooped up in the gym and would rather exercise outdoors during the warmer months.
“There has been plenty of research on exercise outdoors, and studies have shown that outdoor training lowers a person’s blood pressure and heart rate,” says personal trainer Luke Hughes, co-founder of OriGym (origympersonaltrainercourses.co.uk). “This, therefore, makes exercise outdoors feel less strenuous than perhaps the equivalent indoor exercise may feel, meaning you are able to push yourself harder, and therefore potentially achieve more.”
But, what’s the best way to go about it? We asked fitness pros what they recommend, so you can get the most out of both your workout and warmer climes…
1. Check out your local parkrun
You can jump in on the parkrun fun in over 750 locations – and it’s free (parkrun.org.uk).
Over two million people have completed parkruns and with all experience levels welcome, it’s a great way to work on your fitness and get outdoors – while also challenging yourself and being part of a friendly community.
“Parkrun is a great way to add consistency to your routine, having a set time each week, plus the community can be a great way to have a sustainable bout of exercise,” says personal trainer Tirrel Grant. “The events are gamified, which adds extra motivation to want to improve your time or even beat others.”
And as Grant explains: “Cardio is beneficial for cardiovascular health. This can also have positive impact on stress, sleep, blood pressure and other health markers.”
2. Check out local outdoor classes
Hughes says “outdoor bootcamps and fitness classes are a great way to keep active and make connections with like-minded individuals, who will all share your passion for a specific workout style or routine” – and there are plenty to be found across the country, whether that’s HIIT, yoga or bootcamp classes.
“Ultimately, bootcamps are regarded as one of the best fitness classes because they unite clientele with one goal. So, if you’d like to meet and engage with like-minded individuals, it’s a great process,” adds Hughes.
Maybe a more expensive option, but certainly a relaxing one, many parks have yoga classes hosted in them and – even more excitingly – in some cities you can try yoga on a rooftop, to really get the most out of the sun.
3. Get swimming outside
Whether it is your local lido or a more wild experience, swimming has become a popular fitness choice, particularly during the pandemic when we have all been more desperate to get outdoors (in fact, there was reportedly a 323% rise in people ‘wild swimming’).
Grant says “swimming is great, as you can improve cardiovascular health and the exercise is low-impact. Swimming is good if you are recovering from an injury and exercise like running hurts your back or knees,” he adds. “You can improve your general fitness levels by swimming regularly.”
4. Use what’s already there
According to Hughes, you can “make the most of nature’s apparatus or utilise the equipment at your local park to create unique and interesting outdoor workouts. This will not only save you some money, but it can also mix up your training and can make it fun and challenging in different ways.”
The simplest of equipment could be beneficial. “The humble park bench can be used to perform many different exercises. Like the benches you find in the gym, you can perform tricep dips, incline or decline press-ups, squats, box jumps, and Bulgarian split squats,” he suggests.
“A fun way to incorporate swings into your outdoor workout is to treat them as if they were a swiss ball. For example, you could perform decline press-ups, glute bridges, jack-knives, roll-outs, knee tucks and hamstring curls,” Hughes adds.
And for an amazing upper body session, head to the monkey bars. “Bring out your inner child and jump on your local park’s monkey bars. Some exercises you can do with monkey bars include pull-ups, hanging leg raises and hanging sit-ups.”
5. Take a hike
Hughes is also a hiking fan – a pretty amazing way to get out in the countryside and get the blood pumping. “Hiking sessions are ideal for those who have a little more time on their hands and would prefer a more scenic daily workout,” he says.
And it has great health benefits. “When walking on a flat surface, only 20% of your leg’s muscle tissue is used, but one of the benefits of walking on uneven terrain is that it engages far more muscle groups throughout the lower body,” explains Hughes. “When walking on an incline, the calories burned is significantly greater than the average expectancy for walking on flat ground.”
6. Join a running club
Find running intimidating on your own? Joining a running club could give that extra motivation boost, and clubs are bound to be busier in summer as the weather improves.
Flo Seabright, founder of Fit by Flo (fitbyflo.com), runs a weekly running club and says there’s a host of benefits. “We love our run club because it offers an amazing opportunity for us to come together as a community and take on a new challenge as a team,” she explains.
“Motivating yourself to head out for a run can be hard at the best of times but as part of a group, everyone, regardless of their individual abilities, can get involved with something new in a fun and relaxed atmosphere.”
Take a look at local community pages to find a running club near you.