Summer has begun, and the weather is perfect for outdoor sports. Spending time outdoors can boost the mood, reduce stress and make for a harder workout. A recent survey by the It’s Great Out There Coalition and Foresight Factory found that 86% of people agreed that outdoor activities are essential for people’s wellbeing, and 70% were looking forward to more outdoor activities after the restrictions ended.
But what are the best ways to get fit outside, especially when social distancing is an issue? And how can we stay motivated, so that we keep up a regular fitness routine?
In the first of our 2020 series on Tip and Tricks, we offer advice on improving how you you break a sweat outdoors. Whether you’re going for a run, a bike ride, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or yoga, here is our list of how to get the most out of your next outdoor workout:
- Find the right place. Pick the place that is right for you. Parks, woods, local trails and riversides work well for workouts. Keeping your distance remains important as we continue to battle the coronavirus – especially since exercise makes us breathe harder. Find a place that stimulates your senses. Use online resources to check your area out. Get inspired by blogs, podcasts and other success stories, such as those from itsgreatoutthere!
- Find the right time. Most of us need to squeeze sport into a busy schedule. Some people make a habit of exercising every morning, lunchtime or evening. Others are more flexible with their fitness programme. The important thing is to find a moment that suits you – and include time to shower afterwards. And it might seem obvious, but check the weather before you drive to your favourite forest trail.
- Dress appropriately. In summer, light, dry-fitting and moisture-wicking materials are usually the best. Go for artificial fabrics and avoid cotton, which soaks up sweat. Invest in good sport shoes. Rain needn’t stop play: there is a wide range of light waterproof sports clothing. When winter comes, dress dry with layers, while keeping extremities like ears and hands covered.
- Protect yourself. Even if you only go out for a short while, you may need sweat-proof suncream to protect your skin. A hat could also protect your face. In hot climates, avoid the middle of the day. Wear sunglasses if you cycle.
- Refresh yourself. Sport burns calories and induces sweat, but the body should not lose too much of either. An hour of intense running can burn up to 800 calories, and pump out 1.5 litres of sweat. Have water or a sport drink ready when you finish – or even sip it during your workout.
- Warm-up. Prepare for the workout with warm-up exercises. You might think you’re ready to go immediately, but your body usually needs time to raise the heartbeat and increase blood flow.
- Find friends. Friends make fitness more fun – and they keep you motivated. Working out with a buddy makes it more likely for you to stick with your routine, whatever it is. Studies show that you will perform better when you exercise with people you consider to be fitter. Whether it’s your running club or some locals found through websites, exercising with a group can help you keep and stay fit.
- Mix it up. The same, repetitive workout can dull your mind and bore your body. Exercise different muscles and keep yourself motivated by changing your sport, your route, or your routine. For example, a more varied running terrain – such as hilly terrain or sand – will test other parts of your physique. Interval training can also offer a more intense workout.
- Press play. Some people like the stillness of nature. For others, music can be a powerful motivator. Take your soundtrack with you if it helps you to move faster.
- Use tech. Apps and wearables are getting cleverer all the time. Gadgets like Fitbit measure your movements. Apps like Strava will show how far and fast you run or cycle – and compare you with other users. These technologies can help monitor progress as you set goals over time.
Most importantly: have fun! Enjoy yourself. It’s as simple as that. You’ll get more from your workout when it feels less like a chore and more like a treat.