What better way to combat our growing waistlines from all these summertime grilling get-togethers than to exercise in the great outdoors?
Effective exercise sessions don’t require a trip to your local fitness center. In fact, a beautiful outdoor vista might add motivation to move your body. And one of the benefits of a regular fitness routine is that it can build up your metabolism and lean body mass, both of which will help your body burn those excess barbeque calories. Exercise can also relieve stress and support a better overall temperament.
Here are six exercises that are great for people who don’t go to the gym or want to change things up and exercise outdoors—whether that be a local running track or a beautiful beach. The best part is that all you need is an exercise mat, a couple of dumbbells, and your own body weight.
And don’t think you need to do the intricate bodyweight exercises of those agile fitness aficionados on YouTube. The simple movements below can do wonders for your overall physique.
Exercise No. 1: Squats
Squats mainly focus on building up your gluteus maximus, (buttocks), quadriceps (front of the thigh), and hamstrings (back of the thigh).
Starting position: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your back straight, while looking straight ahead.
- Gradually bend at your knees and lower your glutes as if you were sitting down. Make sure that your weight is evenly distributed on your feet.
- When your thighs are parallel with the floor, thrust your body back up to the starting position utilizing your glutes and thighs. Make sure to keep your back straight.
Perform a total of 10 to 12 reps.
Note: You may add dumbbells once you can perform 12 reps with the proper form.
Exercise No. 2: Push-Ups
Push-ups are ideal for building your chest, or shoulders, triceps, and biceps.
Starting position: Find an even surface to lay your exercise mat on, then kneel down on it and bring your feet together behind you. Gradually bend forward and place your palms flat on the mat, positioning your hands slightly shoulder-width apart with your fingers facing forward.
- Gradually lower your body toward your mat’s surface while maintaining a rigid torso and let your elbows flare outward. Don’t allow your lower back to sag or your hips to hike upward during this downward movement. Continue through the movement until your chest touches the mat.
- Push upward using your arms, shoulders, and chest, while maintaining a rigid torso. Also, be sure to keep your head aligned with your spine. Continue pushing upward until your arms are only slightly bent at the elbows.
Perform a total of 8 to 12 reps.
Note: For increased difficulty, try placing your palms farther apart or bringing them close in to form a diamond with your thumbs and index fingers.
Exercise No. 3: Sit-Ups
Sit-ups are a classic exercise that strengthens your hip flexors, back, and abdominal muscles.
Starting position: Place your exercise mat on a level surface and lie down on your back with knees bent and feet anchored to the bottom of the mat. Tuck your chin into your chest (in alignment with your spine) and lengthen the back of your neck.
- Interlace your fingers at the rear of your skull and point your elbows outward.
- Exhale as you lift your upper body toward your knees and keep your hands clasped behind your head.
- Inhale as you lower your upper body back down to the mat.
Perform a total of 10 to 15 reps.
Note: If you have poor balance when you initially try this exercise, no problem! You can place your palms down alongside your body for added stability, instead of behind your head.
Exercise No. 4: Planks
Planks help to strengthen the core muscles (the muscles that connect your upper and lower body), as wells as your glutes and hamstrings. They also increase endurance and improve posture.
Starting position: Make sure you’re on a level surface. Plant elbows on mat slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and straighten your body, with the rest of your weight resting on your toes. You can ball your hands into fists or lay them flat on the mat—whichever is more comfortable.
- While maintaining a regular breathing pattern (don’t hold your breath), squeeze your glutes and engage your core and hamstrings (be careful not to lock your knees).
- Focus on a point on the floor slightly above your head—this will neutralize your spine. Keep your head in line with your spine.
- Hold the plank position for 10 to 20 seconds.
Note: When you can hold the plank position for more than 20 seconds, increase the time by five-second increments.
Exercise No. 5: Lunges
Lunges work your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves.
Starting position: Stand on your mat with feet hip-width apart. Concentrate on your core and keep your head aligned with your spine.
- Take a long step forward with your right leg. Shift your weight forward so your heel hits the floor first.
- Lower your hips until your right thigh is parallel to the floor and your right shin is vertical. As your knee shifts forward, ensure it doesn’t go past your right toe. If able, lightly tap your left knee to the floor while keeping weight on your right heel.
- Drive back up to the starting position from your right heel upward through your thigh and glutes.
- Repeat with your left side.
Exercise No. 6: Walking
Walking is excellent for your health. It’s also great because it’s something you can do practically anywhere and at any time. Not only does it double as a stress-reliever and endurance builder, but it also enables you to get out and enjoy nature, as well as your local community.
Walking 101: If you’re just starting to walk for your health, begin with between 10 to 15 minute walks at first. As you become more comfortable, add a couple of minutes to each of your walks until you reach at least the 30-minute mark.
Note: For added challenge, you can quicken your pace or add hills to the mix.
Great Views and Better Health
Regular exercise can improve both your physiological and psychological well-being. And combining exercise with the great outdoors can compound those healthful benefits, greatly improve your mood, and according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine, help prevent incidences of non-communicable diseases.