Ditch the Gym and Take Your Workouts Outside
Feature Image: @warriorfromwithin
If you’re anything like me, you probably dread going to the gym. And that’s probably because it's always crammed with sweaty people and the machines are always taken, making them feel like humid caves. What’s worse is that they can wipe your bank account clean each month. If you ask me—if there’s no sauna included—a pricey gym membership might not even be worth it.
So, when you really think about it, it can’t be the gym we look forward to, rather it’s the workout, itself, that we yearn for. Getting in a hard-earned sweat, our adrenaline pumping, and the blood flowing—that’s what we love. That’s what we’re after. And I say it’s time we throw in the towel, cancel our gym membership, and take our sweating outside the gym. Let’s make the great outdoors our playground and workout space, because we all know that swinging on the monkey bars isn’t as easy as it looks. (It was even hard when we were ten, let’s be real.) Fresh air, free reign, and zero cost—sounds good to me!
Whether being active every day is beneficial to our health is no longer up for debate. In fact, according to Everyday Health, getting regular exercise—which can be anything from walking thirty minutes a day to cleaning the house—helps prevent heart disease, improve mood and sleep, reduce stress, and more. With various ways to get active outside of gym, there’s no need for a membership anymore.
It’s been scientifically proven that being active outdoors—whether that’s going for a run or hiking up a mountain—actually provides a more challenging workout. Being physically active in a constantly changing environment makes your body work harder, because in order for it to stay constant in motion, it needs to adapt to the terrain of its environment. This is called “muscle confusion,” and it can help your body burn more calories. (immediately thinks about eating chocolate)
And while gym cardio machines each have a benefit, doing the same movement repetitively can lead to overuse injuries. For instance, having the option to change your speed mechanically can be great for “fantasy workouts,” such as quick interval sprints. But the unfamiliar track of the road such as inclines, bumps, or even just striding upwards on a sidewalk helps build your body’s endurance much more than running straight on a treadmill.
Not only is outdoor exercise good for burning calories, but ditching the gym can also save you money. Gym memberships can range anywhere from $10 to $50 a month. (Think of all the iced coffee you could have instead with all of that extra money.) If you’re motivated enough to work out, then you already have everything you need in order to get in a good sweat. Going for a run, a walk, or stair stepping at a local park is free. Need I say more?
Though if you’re worried about what kind of workouts to do outside, don't be. All you need is a pair of sneakers, a towel (because you will get sweaty), and thirty minutes of your time. Try a high-intensity interval workout (HIIT). HIIT workouts are all the rage right now, and they require you to give one hundred percent of your physical efforts through quick, intense bursts of exercise, followed by short periods of recovery. This type of training gets your heart rate up and actually helps you burn more calories and fat in less time. Combining high-intensity cardio with interval training speeds up your metabolic rate, which could help you burn fat long after you finished your workout.
Here’s a HIIT workout you can do anytime, anywhere.
Complete two rounds of these two circuits.
Set a timer, 7 minutes, per circuit
Circuit 1: Do as many reps as you can untill the 7 minutes is up.
24 Lunges (alternating legs)
40 Mountain Climbers (20 per leg)
Rest 1 minute
Circuit 2: Do as many reps as you can until the 7 minutes is up.
30 Bicycle Crunches
15 Plank Jacks
30 Second Plank
Complete those two sets again, and you’re done!
The focus of a HIIT workout is to get your heart pumping, and by keeping it up, you get the best out of your workout. No dumbbells? No problem. These workouts result in optimal muscle building, and muscle retention aids in fat loss and increases calorie burn. And despite how busy you may be, it’s possible to dedicate 30 minutes a day to exercising. Whether science says we should or not, you’ll ultimately be happier when you do. Plus, have you ever actually regretted working out?
Outdoor exercise also boosts one’s mental health, and that’s partly because an exposure to sunlight enhances mood levels. Every time we expose ourselves to the sun, our skin is triggered to produce Vitamin D. Our bodies also release feel-good hormones when we work out, and, trust me, once you’ve experienced a runner’s high, you’ll never stop running. It’s a two-for-one deal: fresh air and happiness.
Lastly, remember all the people packed in to the gym? You’ll be far away from all those people if you take your workout outside. With these tips in mind, I hope you realize that you no longer have to drag yourselves to an expensive gym. Health and happiness can be found outside the muggy gym walls in both big cities and rural towns. We are meant to roam outdoors and enjoy the fresh air, so get out there and sweat.
What’s your favorite way to workout?