Summer is a great time to get your sweat on! For many of us, though, it may still not be advisable to resume some of our usual activities like working out at the gym or fitness studio. Luckily, it's balmy summertime, and you’re able to use the natural world outside as your gym - while still following any local social distancing guidelines in place.
Exercising outside has many advantages. At the moment, many are feeling cooped up due to social distancing, and this isolation can have detrimental consequences for mental health. There are many studied health benefits to spending time in nature, and changing your scenery by getting outdoors and breathing fresh air can help you feel refreshed. We could all use a little stress reduction in our lives right now! Partaking in exercise has mood-boosting benefits, as well as supporting healthy weight maintenance and immune function. Additionally, getting some sunshine will up your vitamin D levels. Even if you don’t have any remote wilderness out your front door, taking your fitness routine to a local park with some trees, a lush field, or a beach jogging trail will allow you to enjoy some natural beauty and reap the benefits.
Until COVID-19 is eliminated from your community, practicing caution when it comes to community exposure is one of the best ways you can protect yourself. When leaving your house, you may wish to consider bringing a face mask and hand sanitizer, as well as consider timing your outing for lower-traffic times of day to reduce your contact with others. However, above all, listen to the recommendations of your local health authority when spending time outdoors!
While it’s true that you won’t be able to use a lat pulldown machine or your favorite set of heavy weights at your local park, there are lots of other options for fun outdoor activities that can help you maintain your fitness:
- Walking and hiking are easy outdoor options. Walking is a highly underrated form of exercise and a low-pressure way to get some exercise if you’re feeling low-energy - just pop on your favorite playlist or podcast and take a jaunt around your neighborhood! Walking or hiking on your local trails can help you access nature as well as get your heart rate up.
- Jogging is an easily accessible way to get some higher-intensity, cardiovascular activity, and if you're just starting to train, you can always switch between walking and jogging to build up your stamina. Jogging or running is also a great option to get your nature on in a local park or trail.
- Got a bike sitting dusty in your garage? This summer is the perfect time to get on two wheels. Cycling is a great activity for muscle building and an excellent alternative to running if you experience any joint or knee pain - as well as a healthy way to run any local errands!
- Yoga and the great outdoors go hand-in-hand. The meditative aspect of a yoga practice is enhanced by the calming sound of the wind rustling in leaves and birdsong, and you get to stretch to your heart’s content under the sun! What could be better?
- Bodyweight exercises are an excellent way to get a high-impact, high-intensity workout outdoors, especially if you’re usually a regular gym-goer. Plus they’re easy to bring outside. Training exercises like planks, squats, burpees, and more can strengthen your muscles, help with burning fat, and also increase your mobility.
- Convert your backyard to a fitness space! Why stick with just one idea? If you have access to some outdoor space of your own, you can convert parts of it into your own outdoor gym, making it easy and accessible to get your exercise at a safe distance from others and reliably outdoors.
Additionally, if you have been missing social contact and your local guidelines allow, try arranging some safely-distanced fitness socializing with pals - it’s easy to keep your yoga mats over 6 feet apart in a big park or field!
If you are taking this time to start a new fitness regimen, remember to take care of your body during workout recovery! Be sure to train at an appropriate level in order to build strength when increasing any strenuous activity. Fitness routines such as running or high-intensity workouts can be hard on your knees and joints, so you may want to include a supplement such as collagen in your regimen. Collagen supplements may help with reducing inflammation and inducing collagen production in your body, which can play a role in protecting your joints as well as aiding in post-workout muscle recovery and repair.