Five Spring Outdoor Workout Ideas

It is time to get outside. Moving your body in nature (even if your “nature” is mostly cars and concrete) is essential for your mental and physical health!

As I always tell my clients, “The worse your mood, the more important the workout” and, “Blah, blah, blah. GO WORK OUT!” The only workout you ever regret is the one you do not do, and do not give yourself the opportunity to think your way out of a workout. Just lace up your shoes and GO!!

Sure, the weather might not be scorching hot yet, but who needs hot? Do not let perfect be the enemy of getting stuff done!! Do not wait for your ideal temperatures … just get started! You will thank me when summer hits and everyone who waited to get outside is like, “Oh, this is perfect weather; I should start running, playing tennis, playing soccer, etc.” and you will already have months of practice under your belt. You will be fit as a fiddle and feel confident doing any activity and playing any sport!

Live by the adage that “there is no bad weather, only bad clothing.” Layer up. If you are cold at first, start your workout wearing arm warmers, leg warmers, gloves, a hat, a balaclava, etc., then strip back the layers as you warm up. My personal tip: buy an outdoor workout jacket with pockets. Pockets allow you to take off your gloves, arm warmers, or jacket sleeves and store them once you are warmed up.

1. Try stairs.

Find a set of outdoor stairs. Walk or jog there to warm up. Then run or walk up and down them for 10 to 20 minutes.

Want to make stairs even more “fun”? Try pyramids. Alternate stairs with a second exercise—think jumping jacks or burpees. Pyramid one or both exercises.

Option 1. Keep the stairs the same and pyramid the second exercise. For example, run the stairs five times. Do 10 jumping jacks. Repeat the same number of stairs. Then do 20 jumping jacks. Each round, increase the number of jumping jacks by 10 until you get to 50.

Option 2. Pyramid both exercises. For example, run the stairs twice. Do 10 jumping jacks. Increase your stairs by two sets. Then do 20 jumping jacks. Each time, increase the number of stair sets by two and the number of jumping jacks by 10 until you get to 10 sets of stair runs and 50 jumping jacks.

2. Find a local track and do some “fun” speed walking, jogging, or running intervals.

Try chorus pickups or word-cue pickups.

Chorus pickups: First, pick a song. When you hear the chorus, increase your intensity. If you are walking, move into a speed walk or a jog. If you are running, sprint.

Word-cue pickups: Again, the first item on the agenda is to pick a song. Second, pick a word that repeats in the song. For example, in Britney Spears’ Hit Me Baby One More Time, I might pick “baby.” Third, pick a motion—think high knees, bum kicks, or an increase in speed. Start walking, jogging, etc. When you hear your word, do your motion. If you do not train with music, try using landmarks. For example, do high knees or a 10 second sprint every time you pass someone in black pants or every time you pass a certain landmark on the track.

3. Make your dog walk a workout.

Instead of meandering and smelling the roses turn the outing into a workout. You have set aside the time; you might as well improve your fitness!

  • Take your dog to the dog park and as he or she fetches the ball do jumping jacks, squats, lunges, etc.
  • Try fartlek intervals. Start in a walk or jog and then pick random intervals to speed walk or jog toward.
  • Find a few picnic tables along your walking route. Stop and attach the dog leash to one of the table legs. Do a few sets of step-ups, dips, and push-ups on the bench.

4. Find the FUN.

Find things you enjoy, or at least that you do not hate. Love tennis? Find a wall and play “wall ball,” or recruit a friend and play a match. Love basketball? Go shoot some hoops. Ultimate frisbee? Take your family to the park! Love podcasts? Listen to one as you walk, jog, or skip.

Or, consider a family challenge. Be creative. Base the parameters of the challenge on the number and age of your kids and their interests. Maybe get your family out playing tennis, walking, or playing ultimate frisbee or soccer in a local park. Each family member counts how many steps they take throughout the day or how many workouts they did through the week. The winner gets to pick family movie night or have their favourite meal delivered.

5. Turn “sitting around time” into a workout.

Instead of driving your kids to their sporting practice and hanging out in the car on your phone, use that time to fit in a workout. Go for a jog or bring a yoga mat and do some planks and squats. Or, when your kids go to the park or to the backyard to play, either ask to participate or use that time to move in a way that makes you happy …. dance around the house to music, skip, do old-school aerobics moves. Bottom line, use every opportunity to MOVE!!

Final thoughts

Schedule your workouts! Block off time. Decide—in advance—the WWWH of your workouts. What will you do? Skip outside? Jog at the local track? When will you do it? Morning? At lunch? Where will you do it? The backyard? The local park? How will you make it happen? What accommodations do you need to make? Does your spouse have to watch the kids? Do you need to block yourself out of Zoom meetings? Then do it!