Working out is almost always synonymous to exercising at a gym. It means using the treadmill, exercise bike, elliptical, and other equipment to shed off the extra pounds, build your muscles, and stay in shape.
Workouts, however, do not need to be confined inside gyms. They are even better and more beneficial when they take place outdoors.
Aside from letting you experience all the health and fitness benefits that you can get at a gym, exercising outdoors will also allow you to breathe in the fresh air, which will stimulate your body and senses. Additionally, this will help improve your quality of sleep and strengthen your lungs as well.
If you work out before ten in the morning, you will get a healthy dose of vitamin D from sunshine, an essential nutrient that supports various functions in the human body.
The beautiful natural surroundings will also calm your senses as you run or engage in other forms of physical activity. Seeing the picturesque scenery in the beautiful mountains in the UAE or anywhere else you go will help you forget your worries and allow you to relax
After the experience, you will be in a better mood and have improved focus and enhanced cognitive skills. You will also feel reinvigorated, ready to take on new challenges at work.
With all these additional benefits you can experience, it’s time to consider adding some outdoor workouts to your fitness routine.
Must-Try Outdoor Workouts
If you want to stay fit and enjoy the other benefits nature has to offer, here are some workout types you can add to your weekly fitness program:
Start with something simple: walking.
Look for a park or green space where you can walk at your pace. While walking, you will burn calories, ease joint pain, lower your blood sugar, and boost your cardiovascular health.
Since you are walking amidst nature, the environment will help improve your mood and boost your energy as well.
Go for walks of 30 minutes every day, five times a week, to get the most from this easy outdoor workout.
If you’re after something a bit more intense, go for a run.
Go for a jog around your favorite park or a nearby place that you have always wanted to visit. You can also try running on the beach. If you have the right footwear, instead of merely sprinting on the sand, lope in the water since this will give your leg muscles a better workout.
Running regularly helps boost your cardiovascular and joint strength. It builds your muscles, enables you to burn calories, and works your core as well.
Since you are jogging outdoors, you will enjoy the other psychological benefits such as enhanced mood and better concentration. A study also shows that running regularly can help protect your memory from the harmful effects of stress.
Taking your bike to work instead of your car is an excellent way to get a workout every day. It is also an eco-friendly thing to do since you will help reduce carbon monoxide emissions.
However, if you live in an area where this is not possible, schedule weekly bike rides. Find a park or green space where cycling is allowed.
If you’re up for a bit of a challenge, look for mountains and other rugged terrains that have bike trails. Choose one that is suitable to your fitness level so that you won’t injure yourself while engaging in this activity.
By including cycling in your fitness routine, you will have a regular effective aerobic workout. It will also build your muscles and bones. Taking bike rides in parks or mountains will get you closer to nature, too, allowing you to experience more mental health benefits.
If you like exploring mountains and other elevated landforms, include hiking in your weekly workout program.
Hiking helps your body burn calories. It tones your body while strengthening your muscles and bones at the same time. This exercise also helps reduce a person’s risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and even heart disease.
Since you will be in the heart of nature as you trek the mountain, you will be able to get out of your low mood and feel happier. Hiking is almost always a group activity as well; as such, you can make new friends or create stronger bonds with the people you will explore the mount with.
Lastly, aside from running on the beach, try another water sport that will give you a proper workout: kayaking.
Kayaking is an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise. It is a great way to build your arm muscles. Additionally, it is a good upper body workout, which helps strengthen the abdominal core as well.
And although you think you may be working out your legs since you are sitting in the kayak, you still are since they assist in balancing and turning the vessel.
Kayaking in a calm lake, beach, or even mangrove forest, such as the Eastern Mangrove Lagoon National Park in Abu Dhabi, in the middle of beautiful natural surroundings, will also help you relax and experience the other mental health benefits that nature provides.
If you want to take your workout to the next level, bring it outdoors. You will enjoy more benefits and learn to appreciate nature and its gifts, which might be the push you need to take a more proactive role in taking care of the environment.
Rasha El Saleh is the Conservation Education and Outreach Coordinator in the education team of Emirates Nature-WWF working on its programme, Connect with Nature. She leads the outreach and youth empowerment aspect in growing the Connect with Nature community within the UAE and providing opportunities for youth to lead in this community, in addition to supporting partnerships with vendors supporting and promoting active aspects of the programme.