Discover how an outdoor workout can benefit your mental and physical health.
When you’re on a treadmill, boredom can take over before you hit your workout goal. But take your run outside and your workout becomes an adventure. Every trail, beach or road offers new scenery and motivation, while challenges like hills, uneven terrain, wind and sand help kick your run up a notch.
In fact, a study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that those who ran outdoors exerted more energy than those who used a treadmill. Aside from burning calories, running improves your heart health and boosts mood and mental health.
Try it under the stars in one of the Night Races across Canada, where participants do 5 or 10K through a city park in the moonlight.
Just when you think you have finally mastered all your asanas, along comes stand-up paddleboard (SUP) yoga. Yoga increases flexibility, strengthens and tones muscles, and improves balance. These benefits are multiplied when you’re perched on a thin board floating on water; just staying upright becomes an intense isometric core workout. If you put too much weight on one side during a pose, you might find yourself swimming instead.
Beyond the physical benefits, you’ll experience a whole new level of relaxation when you forgo yogi music for the sound of rippling water. Plus, you’ve never done a true sun salutation until you’ve done it to the rising sun.
Try it on the still waters off MacKenzie Beach against the green hills of Vancouver Island.
At the gym, you might use a StairMaster, pull-up bar, lat pull-down machine and a host of other equipment to work your legs, back and arms. But why not go rock climbing and use the weight of your own body instead?
When you’re scaling a rock face — be it real or constructed — you’re not just strengthening your muscles, you’re getting an aerobic workout. A study measured the aerobic exertion, breathing and heart rates of climbers and found that climbing qualifies as an excellent aerobic activity according to American College of Sports Medicine standards. And the thrill of conquering a mountain or outdoor Treadwall can’t be measured.
Try it on the craggy Rocky Mountains — even beginners can get above the trees for a bird’s -eye view of beautiful Alberta.
You joined a spin class this winter to get crazy sweaty while listening to your favourite tunes, but now that the deep freeze is over, you can get an even better workout if you dust off your bike.
Cycling is ideal for both commuting and exercising. And according to a study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, when cyclists are outdoors, they exercise at a higher intensity than they do on stationary bikes, even when they think they’ve exerted the same effort on both.
Whether it’s the motivation provided by the beautiful outdoors or the added challenge of the earth’s natural bumps and inclines, it’s just better to ride outside. Don’t forget to get a tune-up before your first cycle of the season.
Try it on Cape Breton Island — the breathtaking coastal views from the Cabot Trail will motivate you while the highlands give you a workout.
Give those back-breaking crunches a rest. The way to a ripped stomach and strong core is to cut through waves in a kayak. Stabilizing your boat and transferring your weight as you move the paddle from side to side requires a lot of work from your back and stomach muscles. Plus, unlike a floor workout, kayaking includes cardio, too.
A 160-pound woman will burn about 365 calories in an hour of kayaking. And if you get too hot, you can always jump in for a swim! Sign up for a kayaking lesson to learn the safety basics.
Try it in the pristine waters of Killarney Provincial Park, where you can explore the unspoiled wilderness and stop for an island picnic.
1. Hardcourt Bike Polo
You know that sophisticated sport royals play where they ride around on horses hitting a ball with a mallet? Well swap the horses for bikes and the grassy fields for urban concrete and you’ve got hardcourt bike polo. Though bike polo has been around for more than 100 years, bike couriers revitalized it for urbanites about 15 years ago, and now clubs are popping up all across Canada.
Combine soccer with football, then subtract the ball. Ultimate involves nonstop movement as your team passes a Frisbee through the air, trying to get it to the end zone without a dropped pass or interception. You can’t help but have a blast playing it. It’s no wonder that Ultimate has become an international hit.
3. Obstacle Courses
They’re dirty, they’re demanding and they’re taking the racing world by storm. Events like Tough Mudder and Spartan Race put groups of brave individuals through a fiercely competitive military-style course, just for the fun of it. Expect obstacles like climbing walls, greased monkey bars—oh, and lots of mud. This trend is not for genteel types.