The summer is here! And you know what that means: sun’s out, guns out! Regretting that you didn’t start your summer body last winter? Don’t worry about it: we think every body is a summer-ready body! But we do want you to feel good, and be the healthiest version of yourself, of course, so it’s never a bad time to work that body and get your sweat on. Hey, you’ll be sweaty anyway, so might as well get some health benefits out of it – and, ok, also feel great about flaunting those strong guns and buns (no matter your size). And now that it’s warm out, it’s a great time to ditch that boring treadmill and head outside for some fun and unique ways to get and stay fit, this summer and beyond!
1. Take a Hike
Maybe you’ve already been doing some rambling in the great outdoors now that the warm weather is upon us, but there are ways that you can take your hiking to the next level and turn it into a cardio, or even a full-body, workout. Take advantage of any hilly or mountainous areas around you, find yourself a nice, steep incline, and walk with strong, bold steps up the incline, and at a slower pace back down 10 times, and you’ll definitely feel your heart rate climbing!
You can also get yourself some hiking poles: adding this equipment to your hike will allow you to work your upper body in addition to your lower body. According to exercise physiologist Kelli Calabrese, MS, when you add poles to your hike, “You move with quicker, smaller steps, your arms are pumping and it’s almost like race-walking. The upper body motion really gets the heart rate going. It’s a great way to add some intensity to your hiking.” So grab a picnic lunch and plenty of water (hauling it around will add to your workout, too!) and get striding!
2. Bring it to the Beach
When we think of summer, we think of the beach – and when we think of the beach, we tend to think of relaxing, right? Not so fast! Before you get lulled by the sound of the waves and start snoozing in the sun, use the sand of the beach as a way to take a walk or a jog to the next level. Again according to Calabrese, “Sand gives you the extra resistance that you wouldn’t have on a treadmill or on asphalt. You can [walk or run] barefooted and you’ll feel a great workout in your feet, shins, and calves.”
And before you do a nice cool down and stretch by the ocean’s edge, turn your walk/run into a full-body cardio and strength workout. Alternate bursts of walking, jogging, and sprinting to get your heart rate into the zone, and then grab your towel and do walking lunges the length of the towel, some push-ups for your upper body, and some crunches for your abs.
Not a fan of exercise that feels like exercise? Get a game of beach volleyball going, or even throw a ball or frisbee around (remember to go long!), and you’ll be surprised how high your heart rate gets just from playing around on the soft sand. Just don’t forget to slather on the sunscreen before you get out there!
3. Make a Splash
Got access to a pool? Great! Lying around on a pool float with a drink in your hand is an excellent way to relax, but you can also use the water as a super effective form of resistance to get your heart rate up and your muscles working. Swimming is an obvious choice for a full-body cardio workout, but you can also get creative and improvise your own water aerobics session. For example, try:
- Warming up by walking, then jogging the perimeter of the pool
- Doing some strength exercises in the shallow end using the water as resistance, like walking lunges, squats, and leg lifts to the front side and back, holding on to the edge. Finish working the lower body with flutter kicks holding the edge or using a kickboard. Then submerge to the neck and do chest presses, reverse flies, bicep curls, and arm circles to work the upper body.
- Floating on your back and your front using only your core and arms to keep you up, or using a pool noodle for balance moves to also work your core.
- Ending with some muscle endurance: head to the deep end and tread water for as long as you can, first with just your arms, then just your legs, then both.
You might be surprised how worked out you feel after only a half an hour in the pool – you might even feel so invigorated that you’ll be ready for more!
4. Be a Joiner
Like the idea of getting outside, having fun, meeting people, and getting a workout? Look for recreational sports leagues in your area (yes, adults can play kickball and join a soccer team, too!). All you need to do is head to Google, and see what’s available near you; try to pick something that you’ll enjoy and that will give the most exercise bang for your buck, like soccer, which requires a lot of running (hey, cornhole is fun, but let’s face it: it doesn’t offer a whole lot of cardiovascular benefits).
We also suggest checking out pickleball: it’s fun, and it involves lots of bursts of movement in different directions, which challenges the body in ways that our everyday lives, with their mostly singular plans of motion, often don’t. You’ll find that any sport you choose, though, will up your functional fitness levels, which traditional exercise regimes don’t always focus on.
5. Go to Camp
Nope, we’re not talking about the summer camp where you had your first crush – we’re talking about a serious booty-kicking outdoor bootcamp class. Bootcamp exercise classes can be pretty intense when you do them at the gym, but take them outside and you bring them to a whole new level. There might be hills, potholes, wind, heat, grass, concrete; all of these variables will add intensity and keep your body guessing. So if you’ve plateaued and are looking to change things up, or take them up a notch, outdoor bootcamp might be just what you need.
Don’t want to pay for an outdoor bootcamp class? We don’t suggest going the Bridesmaids route and stealing a class (ha!), but you can create your own bootcamp in your backyard, or even head to a playground and use the equipment you find there. Remember how tough those monkey bars were to master? They haven’t gotten any easier, we promise. Bring a jump rope, do some pull-ups, some lunges, some ab-focused leg raises, etc, and you’ll get a full-body strength and cardio workout, while getting some serious flashbacks of the fun of childhood!
6. Get on Board
Yoga challenges your strength and balance when you practice it on stable ground, but imagine doing it on water! That’s right: if you’re looking to up your yoga game, you can try stand-up paddleboard (SUP) yoga (a yoga practice done while balancing on a paddleboard in the water), or Boga (which also incorporates some cardio exercises on the board). Doing yoga on a paddleboard will increase the intensity of your practice, since you’ll be forced to go with the flow of the conditions around you, and to use your core and stabilizing muscles more to keep your balance.
Not into yoga, but still want to get out on the water? Consider canoeing or kayaking, which also work your core and upper body as you twist and paddle through the water. Want the yoga, but not the water? You can create your own private hot yoga session in your backyard, and do some serious sweating as you literally salute the sun.
Who says you can only resolve to get fit at the beginning of the year? January can be a tough time to get focused, and the idea of going outside even to head to the gym can be a little, well, unmotivating. But summer, with its less pressured atmosphere and warm weather, might be the ideal time for you to resolve to get fit. After all, the opportunities for getting moving in the summer sun are endless – just choose something that is fun for you, and you’ll not only find it easy to stick to it, but you’ll also find yourself fit by the time fall rolls around again!