You probably became a champ at doing burpees between the couch and the coffee table during the frigid winter months, but warmer temps mean you can hit the grass or pavement for workouts with a little more legroom. Besides the extra space and fresh air, taking your workouts outdoors comes with mental and physical health benefits: Science shows exercising outside relieves stress, boosts mood, and makes the workout feel *much* easier than if you did it indoors. To get all the perks, try these creative ways to exercise outside. At the very least, they’ll make you feel like a giddy little kid at recess again.
1. Play Ball
With a big sky, you can throw things that are off-limits inside. “If you have a basketball, a volleyball, a soccer ball, or a football, use it for medicine ball exercises,” says Ashley Joi, a celebrity trainer and instructor on the Centr workout app.
One drill she likes to exercise outside: Stand holding the ball with both hands, squat down, then explode up as you toss the ball overhead and behind you. Sprint to pick it up, jog back to where you started, and repeat.
2. Chalk Up a Custom Circuit
After the lockdowns started last March, Claudia Lebenthal, creator of the athletic-chic website Style of Sport, started hosting socially distanced boot camps in her backyard in New York, chalking the names of exercises on her driveway as 30-second stations: push-ups, squats, high knees. “We improvised weights with gallon bottles and detergent jugs — whatever was handy,” says Lebenthal.
3. Try Your Reps On the Run
When you’re out on your loop, use the scenery to get in some strength exercises. “You can do push-ups or dips when you pass a bench, step-ups on stairs, and even tote a small resistance band in your fanny pack to wrap around a pole,” says Lebenthal.
4. Make It a Field Day
Take a cue from Crunch gym’s popular Athlete’s Workout, says Elle Young, a group fitness instructor who now leads the class outside in Burbank, California, on the Astroturf of the gym’s parking garage turned outdoor annex. “It’s a mix of athletic drills: carioca, football runs, basketball vertical jumps, soccer juggles,” she says. Alternate drills (40 seconds of work, followed by 20 seconds rest) with challenges like doing two minutes of squats for a sweaty HIIT workout.
5. Take Advantage of Backyard Features
“Using trees as an anchor for battle ropes or TRX stations is a fun way to get moving, and grass can act as a mat for ground-training circuits,” says Young.
Hyperwear makes a more compact, 20-foot Hyper Rope that doesn’t even need an anchor, so you can use it to exercise outside. And TRX’s Home2 System.
6. Capitalize On Any Open Patch
“Take your shoes and your bag off, and you’ll have three different ‘destinations’ you can space out on the ground,” says Joi. (Sunglasses, water bottle, and backpack also work — you get the picture.)
Then let the games begin: “You could run directly to one and then back. Going to the second destination, you could run backward to it and then forward on the return,” says Joi. “For the last one, do a sprint and then a side shuffle. There are many things you can do just moving among those three points.”
7. Choose a Zen Backdrop for Your Yoga
Bringing your yoga mat to an empty park might just be the easiest way to exercise outside. “I found a small park to do my Sunday evening yoga, where I can face the sun as it’s setting,” says Young. “Establishing that quiet space for myself is huge.”
Choose an app like Aaptiv for audio guidance to lead you through a session, or simply flow through sun salutations and the like in silence. “You can use these mind-body formats to really disconnect,” says Young.