Summer is officially upon us, with warmer weather and longer nights on the horizon, so why would you want to spend your valuable free time stuck in a gym?
To get fit and burn calories? Well you don’t need a gym for that, during the winter sure, as a result of the unfavorable weather conditions outside, but summer presents the perfect opportunity to ditch the gym and the queues for equipment and get fit outdoors instead.
There are even a number of benefits to ditching the gym and exercising outdoors, including the chance to get some fresh air and healthy sunlight.
But also mentally, as exercising outdoors can help you reconnect to nature making you happier and more likely to keep up with the exercise because it’s naturally more enjoyable.
With that in mind outdoor clothing brand Regatta, as part of their series looking at the benefits of reconnecting with nature, have looked at some of the best outdoor activities to replace your gym workouts.
And have even found a way to workout outdoors and go to the pub at the same time!
Probably the easiest outdoor activity to get into as it doesn’t require any expensive equipment, just a cheap pair of hiking boots. Of course if you’re planning to tackle a more intense hike, such as following a trail up a mountain, you may even want to invest in some walking poles or a sturdy set of boots.
Hiking is the perfect exercise to ditch the gym in favour of the outdoors because why be stuck indoors on a treadmill while the weather’s nice and you can breathe in some fresh air and explore the natural beauty spots around you.
At moderate intensity, the average person can burn between 430 and 440 calories per hour of hiking.
Rock Climbing / Bouldering
Rock climbing is generally considered to be one of the best full body workouts you can do. Both rock climbing and bouldering engage pretty much every muscle group at some point meaning you are really maximising your workout.
And while traditional full body workouts in the gym are of course beneficial to your health, one advantage rock climbing has especially if you’re doing it outdoors is that it’s incredibly varied. Traditional workouts teach your body to do the same repeated motion over and over, whereas no climbing surface or route is quite like another, so the work you ask your muscles to perform during a climb changes each time you exercise. This ensures you’re training a greater number of muscles.
And because rock climbing naturally has periods of rest in between periods of high intensity, you can even use it to replace your routine HIIT workout.
You can expect to burn anywhere from 500 to 900 calories per hour, depending on the number of rests between routes.
The perfect summer activity, because let’s face it no one is brave enough to get out on the water during a British winter. For the most part kayaking will work your upper body muscles, particularly your lats, biceps and triceps, meaning you can ditch the dumbbells for the oar.
However because the rotational movements you do during kayaking can be very demanding to your core muscles, the sport can actually help you get those firmer, washboard abs you’ve been working towards. Throw in the demand from balance and stabilization, and you’ll be rocking a six pack in no time.
An hour of kayaking happily through the waters at moderate intensity can burn up to four hundred calories.
Although maybe instead of getting out on the water you’d prefer to just get in it? Wild swimming has seen a boom in popularity over the last few years, although it’s probably more enjoyable in the summer. Wild swimming is essentially swimming outdoors in natural spaces, such as rivers, lakes or the sea. Like swimming in general it can be a great way to stay fit and has the added benefit of getting you outdoors and enjoying nature.
If you are brave enough to take a dip when the water is slightly colder there are a number of additional health benefits, from helping with inflammation and building up your immune system to reducing stress and releasing endorphins.
Cold water can also help you burn more calories than swimming alone, as your body is working harder. For example swimming at a moderate intensity can burn through 588 calories in an hour, but if you drop the temperature by 13 degrees, this could increase by 41%, so an additional 241 calories.
Just because you’re getting outdoors doesn’t mean you need to head off into the wilderness, there are plenty of ways to ditch the gym for the outdoors in an urban setting, such as parkour. Also called free running, the sport originates from a French military-designed training which utilizes obstacles which the runner has to adapt their movement to overcome; think chase scene in an action movie.
Free running heavily utilises physical abilities such as running, jumping, swinging, rolling and even climbing. Because of this it can offer a fun, alternative way to get in a full body workout.
Expect to burn at least 300 to 400 calories, depending on the intensity of the workout.
If you’re fortunate enough to live near a beach, and one that is actually made of sand not pebbles, why not ditch the treadmill in favour of sand. Running on sand has an increased resistance meaning your muscles are working harder and you’re burning more calories.
Running on sand has all the benefits of traditional running but can be softer on joints , knees, and shins. Not to mention that on average you burn 1.6x more running on sand than you do on a hard surface.
So for an hour jog on your local beach at around 3mph, expect to burn roughly 720 calories!
Getting outdoors doesn’t necessarily mean you should head straight for your local woodland or plan to climb a mountain. In fact there are a number of ways you can ditch the gym for the outdoors and be within touching distance of your home.
Garden is a great way to effectively sneak in a workout while taking care of some chores. Especially as all that kneeling and digging can burn more calories than you might think. 30 minutes of weeding alone can burn around 180 calories, whereas more intensive garden work like digging and spadding can burn up to 240 calories every half an hour.
Spend an hour doing some light gardening and you can expect to burn around 350 calories and will have ticked a few chores off your list.
Probably the strangest activity on this list, geocaching lets you fulfil that fantasy of following a treasure map to buried treasure using modern technology. The activity is essentially like a giant game of hide and seek, but instead of looking for another person you are hunting down a container left by another player, or a ‘cache’.
This is done using apps that use a global positioning system (GPS) to mark the location of these caches using coordinates that players can then use to track down their prize.
Because of the varied nature of geocaching it’s impossible to put an average on the amount of calories burned but this is a fun way to get out and enjoy the outdoors while burning a few calories along the way – after all someone may have left a cache on top of Snowdon.
What if I told you there was a way to ditch the gym for the pub BUT still see the benefit of a workout? Yes, it sounds like a lie but that’s exactly what hashing is. It’s basically an adult version of the game Hare and Hounds, and while there are official hashing clubs you can join like the Hash House Harriers, you can still enjoy hashing with your friends.
A mix of running and drinking, hashing sees one runner chosen as the “hare” who is then chased down city streets by runners playing the role of the “hounds.” Along the way the hare leaves a “scent” (bits of paper or colored flour) for his or her pursuers to follow. The hounds remain in constant contact, using horns or verbal calls to indicate that they’re on the right track. Eventually, the hare will lead the hounds to the finish line which, as you may have guessed, is often at a bar.
Again it can be hard to put an average on how many calories you could burn hashing, but if the chase was to go on for a full hour you could likely expect to burn anywhere between 400-700 calories based on pace.
And you end up in the pub, which you were probably going to ditch the gym for anyway.