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August 13, 2021 • read
Five easy outdoor fitness activities to get your heart pumping
Gyms are open, but not everyone is enthusiastic about getting their sweat on indoors with others. Exercise is one of the best ways of keeping your heart healthy, so not doing it isn’t an option if you care about your health. Luckily, summer provides a golden opportunity to get your weekly 150 minutes outside. Exercise and the great outdoors are a potent combination. Plus, combining them is a great way to socialize while the threat of COVID-19 lingers. Here are five easy outdoor fitness activities to get your heart pumping.
Nothing says summer quite like beach volleyball. But beach volleyball isn’t just about spending the day in the sand — all that bumping, spiking, and diving is a great way to get your heart pumping too. Depending on your weight, a competitive game can help you burn around 500 calories an hour. And since you’re playing on shifting sand, it’s also great for toning muscles. Plus, volleyball can improve your hand-eye coordination and hone your teamwork skills. Since it’s normally played in pairs of two, it’s easy to keep your group small. This makes it a great way to get active and be social while social distancing.
One of the best ways to cool down on a hot summer’s day, swimming is also an incredible workout. Water provides more resistance and is denser than air, which gives it a couple of additional benefits. First off, moving your body through the water uses virtually every one of your muscle groups. This makes swimming an effective way to build muscle, and improve cardiovascular health and stamina. Secondly, it means that swimming puts less pressure on your joints than other forms of exercise. This means that swimming has a lower impact on your body, making it accessible for all life stages, abilities, and fitness levels. So the next time the temperature rises, try adding a swim to your fitness routine. Just make sure to follow safe swimming guidelines.
Whether you choose a well-worn neighbourhood path or a mountainous trek, a brisk walk is one of the easiest ways to get your heart pumping. It might also have life-altering effects. Walking around 2.5 hours a week reduces your chances of having a major cardiovascular issue, like a heart attack or stroke, by about 30%. If you’re looking to boost the intensity of your workout, try increasing your speed for brief bursts throughout your walk. Known as interval training, this approach can help you burn more calories and boost your cardiovascular benefits.
While slogging it out on a treadmill also provides cardiovascular benefits, walking outdoors has the edge. Research shows that not only do outdoor walkers exert themselves more and feel less worn out than indoor walkers, they also enjoy it more.
The freedom that comes with riding your bike makes it feel like summer, no matter the weather. Plus, it’s an environmentally friendly and healthy mode of transportation. On top of that, cycling uses most of the major muscle groups, helping you to build muscle and boost your cardiovascular fitness. It’s also easy on your joints, making it a great exercise to do throughout your lifespan. You can customize your ride to make it as intense, or as gentle as you like. Just don’t forget your helmet!
You don’t have to be a pro to get a workout playing basketball — it can be played by almost all ages and abilities. Whether you’re shooting hoops solo, playing some friendly one-on-one, or playing a full-player competitive game, basketball is a great way to get your heart rate going. The benefits don’t end there though — basketball can also help with building strength, agility, and improving coordination and motor skills. Many players will tell you that it also helps you develop discipline and hone your concentration. Best of all, basketball requires minimal equipment — just a ball, a hoop, and some shoes.
A sedentary lifestyle is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, but only 16% of Canadians get the recommended amount of physical activity. Taking your fitness routine outdoors can boost your vitamin D levels, improve your sleep, reduce your stress levels, and increase positive feelings. So try these easy outdoor fitness activities to get your heart pumping, and while you’re at it, collect all the mental health and mood benefits of being outdoors.