How to Move Your Exercise Routine Outdoors

Core Collective Broad in Memphis. Photography by Good Golly Photography.

When the weather starts to warm up, taking your fitness routine outdoors is a great way to reinvigorate your workout regimen. For those who might be interested in exercising outside more often, we asked four fitness experts across the country for advice on how to safely embrace—and optimize—alfresco sweat sessions. Read on for inspiration and information that will have you looking forward to getting fit in the fresh air. To find a personal trainer or fitness studio in your area, consult The Scout Guide directory here.

Know the benefits. It’s no secret that spending time outside increases your Vitamin D intake. Becca Kelly, owner of BK X-Training in Knoxville, Tennessee, reports that on average, within one hour of being outside in the direct sunlight, your body will produce the equivalent of ingesting 10,000-25,000 IU of Vitamin D. Kyndal Minniefield, owner of Boom Performance in Mobile Bay, Alabama, notes that a science-supported study has found that getting just five to 10 minutes of direct or indirect sunlight at the start of your day provides all the photons (light energy) you need to set your circadian rhythm and improve mental health, physical health, and sleeping patterns. Last but not least, thanks to the added variety in your training environment, transitioning exercise sessions outdoors can allow our bodies to experience a more whole-body workout, Kelly explains. “Added elevation changes, hill climbs, and uneven surfaces challenge balance, coordination, and encourage overall body awareness while engaging the core and stabilizer muscles,” she says.

Start early in the season. If you’re not already acclimated to working out in warmer temperatures, Brandon Evans and Trace Cruz, co-owners of Alterra Training in Hayes, Virginia, recommend starting your new outdoor exercise routine at the beginning of the season when temperatures are cooler. That early acclimation will pay off when the temperatures start to rise as your body will be conditioned to the heat. Additionally, you should schedule your workouts in the morning and evening hours to avoid the peak heat of the day.

Remember that hydration is key. When the temperatures rise, heat exhaustion and heat stroke can strike quickly, so it’s extra important to be mindful of your fluid intake. “Water will be your best option for short activities, but an electrolyte drink is great if you’re a heavy sweater or outside for longer durations in the heat,” Evans and Cruz advise. Keep in mind that some sports drinks can have a high sugar content, they note, so adding powdered electrolyte sticks to your water bottle can be a good option.

Consider doing your mind/body practice outdoors. If you already have a committed pilates or yoga practice, Jenna Goode, founder of Core Collective Broad in Memphis, Tennessee, notes that now is the perfect time to hit the mat outside. For yoga, no special equipment is needed, other than blocks for support. With pilates, Goode’s specialty, you can do an effective mat routine anywhere by focusing on full body integration using body weight for resistance. “Pushups, lunges, planks, and squats are all dynamic, multi-joint movements, which are great for targeting a variety of areas at once and maximizing strength benefits,” she explains. Read about Goode’s pilates workout on The Scout Guide Memphis website here.

Think of a park as a gym. A great workout can await just outside your front door, but to mimic a gym setting Kelly recommends finding a nearby park or greenway. “I like to start with going for a walk and incorporating running intervals. For example, walk for two minutes then jog for one minute,” she explains. “As you build up endurance, increase your run time and decrease your walk time.” To add some strength training to the mix, Kelly recommends using a park bench as your prop and working in step ups and tricep dips. To help build leg strength, she recommends adding walking lunges into your walk/run intervals. Read about Kelly’s full park workout on The Scout Guide Knoxville website here.

Explore taking up a new sport. There’s no rule that says workouts can’t be fun. Evans and Cruz recommend incorporating some enjoyable outdoor activities into your repertoire. Tennis has long been a popular warm-weather sport, and recently pickleball has been sweeping the nation thanks to the ease of play and good times that ensue. The duo adds that volleyball, whether played on a court or the beach, is also a great option. If you’re interested in getting out onto the water, they recommend trying kayaking or paddle boarding.

Tip 419 from Becca Kelly, owner of BK X-Training in Knoxville, Tennessee; Kyndal Minniefield, owner of Boom Performance in Mobile Bay, Alabama; Brandon Evans and Trace Cruz, co-owners of Alterra Training in Hayes, Virginia; and Jenna Goode, founder of Core Collective Broad in Memphis, Tennessee. BK X-Training appears in The Scout Guide Knoxville. Boom Performance appears in The Scout Guide Mobile Bay. Alterra Training appears in The Scout Guide Williamsburg. Core Collective appears in The Scout Guide Memphis