Summer Savvy: Essentials of Using the Great Outdoors for Fitness and Fun

It’s summer and that means enjoying the great outdoors as much as possible. It’s the ideal time to get in shape while basking in the warmth of the sun. There are plenty of wonderful activities that will allow you to appreciate the environment and scenery while you challenge yourself physically and build your fitness threshold.

Running, Biking and Hiking

Summer’s cool mornings and evenings offer excellent opportunities to take in natural beauty and comfortable temperatures. Taking the scenic view on a run or bike ride is the best way to keep your workouts visually stimulating and refreshing. Another benefit: immersing yourself in nature, especially areas with expansive views, helps your body produce endorphins, those wonderful feel-good hormones. Yonder is a cool social networking app, available for free on iTunes, made to forge a connection between experiences, people and places involving the outdoors. Yonder uses a database to rank the top users and destinations, and show you where the greatest experiences lie nearby. Users share photos of their outdoor experiences and plot the locations on a virtual map. You can even mark specific posts to your list of personal favorites and visit them later on.

Want to get real time data on how hard your body is working during an outdoor workout? Check out the Garmin vivosmart HR Fitness band. Its features include monitoring sleep, goal countdown, calories, distance and time of day. This fitness band can also wirelessly sync to the free Garmin Connect online fitness community. It even learns your current activity level, greets you with a personalized daily goal and reminds you when it’s time to get up and going.

Tough Mudders

If you haven’t heard of a Tough Mudder then get ready to get down and dirty. It is a 10 mile, (or 5 if you do the half Tough Mudder), obstacle course through the mud. This rewarding event tests you mentally just as much as it does physically. Tough Mudders are all about cooperating with teammates and completing a very daunting goal no matter how intimidating it may be. Tough Mudders are touring around the U.S. right now so find one coming near you and start training!

Outdoor Yoga

Outdoor Yoga is growing in popularity not only for its physical challenges and ability to tone and shape the body, but for its ability to strengthen and calm the mind. Working through a range of poses geared to your flexibility and skill level can be rigorous although the meditative qualities of this discipline offer practitioners serenity and feelings of peacefulness, particularly with a guided relaxation at the end of the session. Enjoying nature sounds on the beach or simply in your backyard during a yoga session will heighten the experience for solo or group practitioners. Public parks and even historic sites like museums with large outdoor spaces offer outdoor yoga classes throughout summer months.

Outdoor Dance Classes

Dancing outside provides so many benefits that just can’t be found indoors. Feeling the grass under your feet, the breeze flow across your body and the sun shining on your face helps make the dance feel that much more natural. Dance utilizes many different muscles in your body so it can be a very rewarding workout. Check online for free and paid dance classes in tango, salsa and other styles offered in your community.

Whether you are a daily workout enthusiast or just a beginner, don’t wait! Make summer your time to get in shape. There are so many great opportunities to enjoy the outdoors that you can take advantage of and reap physical, social and spiritual benefits all at once.

Cian Laurence, a Brooklyn-based writer hailing from Dublin, has a passion for technology & apps and uses free Wi-Fi whenever it’s available.