5 Ways You Can Use Outdoor Spaces to Reach Your Fitness Goals

It seems these days that everyone wants to join a gym. Some people belong to multiple gyms and studios to meet their fitness goals.

5 Ways You Can Use Outdoor Spaces to Reach Your Fitness Goals

What many gym goers don’t realize, however, is that almost everything you do in the gym you can do outdoors. Indeed, gym exercises mimic real-life experiences like running, rowing, biking, and even lifting.

So, why not just get outside? You’ll get the same health benefits plus you’ll get fresh air and sunshine. 

1. Hit the Playground

Have you heard the expression, “Be like children?” Adults often forget the joy they experienced as kids, laughing, running, and playing.

They see parks and playgrounds as places from the past or for their children. However, you can get a great workout on playground equipment and have fun doing it. Indeed, some parks even have specialty equipment designed for working out. 

So, next time you’re considering going to the gym, opt for an empty playground instead. (You don’t want to run the kids out of the park.) You can do pull-ups on the monkey bars, push-ups on the steps, and sit-ups hanging upside down from any bar. You could also treat the structure as an obstacle course and time yourself racing through it. These exercises offer cardio benefits as well as building muscle. 

2. Take a Hike

Hiking is vastly underrated. And even those who do see the benefits of hiking often think of backpacking through the wilderness. Or they figure they have to go long distances or go fast.

The truth is that you can go slowly, you can go short distances, and you can likely hike in your city. Find a nature trail or conservation area near you, put some sturdy shoes on, and go!

In addition to shoes, you should have appropriate clothing for the weather, water, and maybe some protein snacks. Hiking offers cardio exercise, of course, but it offers something else you can’t get in the gym. The terrain of most trails requires you to navigate around rocks and boulders and change elevation frequently. You’ll use muscles you wouldn’t otherwise, including your brain. After all, you have to focus on not tripping!

3. Swim Upstream

Swimming pools abound. People have them in their backyards, many gyms offer them, and you can even find community pools. Swimming is a great cardio exercise, and you can certainly swim at the gym or your local center. But there’s something you can’t get in a pool that a river or creek will give you — resistance. 

Many professional athletes, like Michael Phelps, pay thousands of dollars to get wave pools installed on their properties. You could get the same benefits of swimming upstream for free in your local river or creek.

Find a spot that will allow you a good stretch to safely swim against the current for 20 to 30 minutes a few times a week. Your heart, lungs, and muscles will thank you. 

Safety Disclaimer: Before attempting to swim in water with currents, it is important to assess the risks involved and ensure that you are adequately prepared. Swimming against a current can potentially be dangerous, especially for inexperienced swimmers. Always swim in areas where it is safe to do so and where there is minimal risk of hazards such as rocks, debris, or undertows.

4. Plant and Maintain a Garden

It may sound silly, but gardening is difficult work, especially if you build from the ground up. Install raised garden beds, fill them with branches, hay, rocks, and soil, and then plant flowers or food.

Depending on what you do in the garden, you can burn just as many, if not more, calories than you do in the gym. Plus, again, you get the added benefits of sunshine and fresh air. 

Look at gardening as a pleasurable activity and a fitness challenge — that’s how you get a good workout. Lift heavy items like bags of soil, shovel by hand instead of using a machine, and bend and reach using your muscles. What if you don’t have space in your yard for a garden — say you live in an apartment? Find a local community garden, or contact your city government about starting one! Where there’s a will, there’s a way. 

5. Build Things

Have you ever seen an out-of-shape construction worker? It’s pretty rare. Bending, lifting, hammering, drilling, tearing down, and building up. It’s all hard work — literally manual labor — and it builds strong muscles.

No, you don’t have to rush out, quit your job, and get into construction work to meet your fitness goals. But you can start building things outside. 

Maybe your kids need a treehouse, maybe your dog needs a dog house, or maybe you’d like a zen garden. Put your able body to good use and find small construction projects around your house and yard to take on. They’ll keep you active, moving, and thinking — all good for your health and fitness. And if you live in an apartment, consider volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, or another local organization that will let you build on weekends. 

In the end, everything you do in the gym, you can do outside. Gyms were, in reality, designed to mimic activities that have kept humans strong and fit for thousands of years. If you’re looking for ways to reach your fitness goals while spending time outdoors, you’re in luck.

Not only will any of these activities help get you in shape, but they also offer mental health benefits. So you can aim to be both happy and healthy — a winning combo.