Three Awesome Outdoor Workout Ideas

Need to shake up your workout routine? Take your training outdoors this summer by trying a fun new fat-burning activity.
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Run Your First 5K

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Running a 5K is a great way to challenge yourself while toning muscles and trimming body fat. "You can't find an easier and more efficient way to burn calories than running," says Julie Isphording, Olympic marathon runner and author of Get Healthy. Get Happy: How to Make Small Changes That Give You Big Results. "Studies show that running increases your resting metabolic rate, meaning you burn more calories even at rest, improving body composition by reducing body fat."

Benefits: Running works your quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves, as well as the heavy-duty core muscles in your abdomen and lower back. It also releases endorphins, stimulates creativity and elevates your mood, according to Isphording.

Get started: "Start with a base run of about 15 minutes three days a week and add three minutes to your workout every seven days," suggests Isphording for new racers. Once you've worked up to about 30 minutes or a 5K distance, sign up for a race in your area. More experienced racers can train to move a little faster, incorporating intervals and speed drills into their routines.

Calories Burned: 620 per hour (running at a speed of 6 mph).

Swim One Mile

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In the sweltering summer heat, swimming can be a soothing and sweat-free way to burn calories.

Benefits: This non-impact sport works your body from head to toe while building endurance, reducing blood pressure and decreasing resting heart rate. Muscles targeted vary from stroke to stroke, but most hit the abdominals, biceps, triceps, shoulders, back, chest, glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps and calves.

Get Started: Swimming a mile is a good goal, and depending on your speed, it can take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes to swim that distance. Build up slowly, adding more laps each week, until you've gotten up to a mile. Then incorporate a little speed work such as length and half-length sprints to improve your time. Since you're in a different medium, a thorough warm-up is essential. Take a few easy laps in the pool or jog lightly before entering the water.

Calories Burned: 496 calories per hour

Fat-Burning Tip:

  • 16 laps or 32 lengths in an Olympic-sized pool (50 meters) = 1 mile
  • 32 full laps or 64 lengths in a standard swimming pool (25 meters) = 1 mile

Road Cycling

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The wind in your hair, the sun on your face and the thrill of speed are just three reasons to try road cycling - not to mention that it's the perfect excuse to wear spandex shorts that show off your quads!

Benefits: Cycling improves cardiovascular endurance, increases metabolism and builds a killer set of legs. It's also low-impact and works wonders for stress reduction and balance.

Get Started

To stay safe while cycling, follow these guidelines:

  • Avoid busy streets when possible.
  • Obey traffic laws at all times.
  • Ride in the same direction as traffic and signal your turns properly.
  • Be visible, day and night. Wear bright colors during the day; use a light and reflectors in the dark.
  • Be alert at all times, especially when traveling on busy roads.
  • Play your music at a lower volume or use only one earbud so you can hear for traffic or dogs.

Calories Burned: 496 calories per hour (biking at a speed of 12 to 14 mph)

Fat-Burning Tip: Sure, it's fun to ride as fast as possible on a flat road, but to bump your caloric burn and burn out those quads, tackle a few hills along the way.

The Dos and Don’ts of Exercising Outdoors

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  • Do wear sunblock of SPF 30 to 75, even on cloudy days. Use broad-spectrum sunblock with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide for ultimate protection. Reapply often, especially after sweating or exposure to water.
  • Do wear UV protective or polarized sunglasses when running, hiking or cycling to prevent corneal burn.
  • Don't exercise during the hottest part of the day, between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., if at all possible.
  • Do carry water at all times and hydrate frequently.
  • Don't continue to exercise if you feel faint, dizzy or are sweating profusely. These are signs of heat stroke and should be attended to immediately.

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