With summer right around the corner, it’s time to get back into the swing of things when it comes to healthy outdoor activities

We only have a limited amount of time to enjoy the gorgeous weather, so capitalize on it while you can. 

This summer, be mindful of the activities you pursue and the impact they will have on your health. 

There are a number of healthy ways to burn a ton of calories while you enjoy the summer sun. 

It’s a classic win-win scenario.      

Running

Simple.  Straightforward.  Terrible.  Exhausting.  Those are a few ways most people would describe running. 

While it may or may not be all of those things, there is one fact about running nobody can dispute – it’s incredibly good for health. 

Just a half hour of moderate running can burn up to 400 calories. 

If you want to start running, you shouldn't start training for marathons right away.  Simply do as much as you can handle and don’t over-exert. 

If you can’t run or would prefer not to, you can always do a similar, less rigorous activity. 

Something like…

Walking

Walking could be considered the perfect form of exercise, to be honest. 

You don’t have to learn any new skills and the training for it takes place when we’re infants. 

All you need to do is get up and go.  Walking also allows you to appreciate your surroundings without worrying about your mile time. 

The best part?  You burn more calories than you might think.

Hiking

Man with backpack hiking in mountains

Also known as “advanced walking”, hiking lets you enjoy nature at its absolute best. 

The rugged and sometimes steep terrain works the leg muscles very effectively. 

Hiking is a weight-bearing exercise, which is good for bone health. 

Find a nearby state park and take a day trip to view the beauty of nature while getting in shape.   

Road Biking

If you want to go fast, this is the activity for you. 

There is no other activity that combines a leg workout and cardio quite like biking. 

On top of that, it is a great form of transportation. 

You can save money on gas and it is a faster way to get from Point A to Point B than walking. 

The amount of calories you burn will depend on how fast you go.  Don’t forget to wear a helmet!

Mountain Biking

Group of people mountain biking

Although you don’t go as fast when you mountain bike, you will make up for it with a strenuous leg workout. 

Much like hiking, the rugged and steep terrain can really work those leg muscles.

Kayaking

Although it is an exercise that almost exclusively relies on upper-body strength, kayaking is still a very fun method for getting fit. 

Keep in mind there is more equipment required for kayaking than most of these activities. 

However, it is a small price to pay for the chance to take a peaceful trip down the river and check out some scenery.  

Swimming

There is no better way to beat the summer heat than going for a refreshing swim. 

Swimming is a great low-impact exercise than can expend a lot of energy during high-intensity sessions. 

It’s no wonder why Michael Phelps needs to take in 12,000 calories after a day of training. 

Similar to biking, swimming is an enjoyable activity that most people already know how to do.

Rock Climbing

Man dressed in orange rock climbing

If you’re afraid of heights, skip to the next activity. 

If not, keep reading, because rock climbing is a fantastic form of testing yourself. 

When you scale a rock wall, you work a variety of muscle groups in the upper and lower body. 

If you consistently rock climb, your grip strength will be off the charts.  Rock climbing also works the leg muscles in a unique fashion.

Beach Volleyball

Next time you have a day at the beach, take a break from lying on your beach towel and play some volleyball. 

The combination of running and jumping will increase your heart rate in a hurry. 

When you jump on sand, the sand provides some added resistance while making for a softer landing. 

If you start to overheat, go for a swim!

Tennis

Tennis ball about to land on a clay tennis court

Any type of racquet sport is going to be fun and challenging, tennis especially. 

The quick, lateral movements required are great for building leg muscle and raising the heart rate. 

Also, the swinging motions with the racquet work several upper-body muscles. 

On top of that, you can play with a friend!  A little friendly competition never hurts. 

Go ahead and hone your tennis skills while getting into shape.

Pickup Basketball

If you have played basketball for any amount of time, you’ll know why it’s on this list. 

Basketball combines constant running with sporadic bursts of energy to make an amazing form of cardiovascular exercise. 

Go to a local park for a pickup game or just play one-on-one in the driveway. 

Either way, you’ll shed a few pounds in no time.

Golf – Walking and Carrying Clubs

Golf ball sitting on grass with a person in the background

Believe it or not, golf is a great exercise

This is especially true if you walk the course and carry your bag. 

Most estimates say the average golfer walks a total of 5 miles during an 18-hole round of golf. 

When you account for the added weight of the bag, golf is a much better way to burn calories than just walking. 

Also, the golf swing activates several large muscle groups in the upper and lower body. 

Golf is a great healthy summer activity for all ages. 

Gardening

When you consider what is produced as a result of gardening, it very well may be the best overall activity for health. 

Gardening covers both the diet and exercise aspects of a healthy lifestyle. 

The amount of calories burned during gardening is actually comparable to walking at a leisurely pace for the same amount of time. 

After you finish burning all those calories, enjoy a nutritious diet filled with fruits and vegetables.    

Cleaning Gutters

Time for the fun stuff – the household chores you can’t do during the winter and have been putting off for as long as possible. 

Instead of dreading these chores, think of how healthy they’re making you!  

All the activity involved with cleaning gutters gives you a workout equivalent to brisk walking.        

Miscellaneous Yard Work

This covers all the various types of yard work besides mowing the lawn (a lot of people use riding lawnmowers, which aren’t the best for burning calories). 

Tending to plants, chopping wood, raking, and shoveling are all excellent ways to elevate that heart rate. 

In general, yard work will require you to exert quite a bit of energy. 

Mowing Lawn w/ Push Mower

Red push mower

If your yard is small enough, consider using a push mower. 

Operating a powered push mower is essentially the same as walking, but it’s still exercise nonetheless. 

Spending a solid hour mowing the lawn will make you break a sweat, guaranteed. 

Safety First

Although all these activities are fantastic for your health, there are still some precautions you should take to make sure they don't end up doing any harm.

The summer sun can be brutal, especially during July and August.

In extreme heat, use common sense and don't try to overdo it.

Stay well hydrated when you do any type of outdoor activity.

It's also good to wear sunscreen every time you go outside to protect yourself from harmful UV rays.

 

Getting outside and being active is a proven technique for enhancing physical and emotional well-being

Even household chores can help burn a few extra calories. 

Keep in mind that all these activities are most effective when supplemented with a healthy diet. 

Make the most of this summer and get moving!  

Andrew Gibbs, PharmD

Andrew Gibbs, PharmD

Andrew graduated from the University of Illinois Chicago College of Pharmacy at Rockford in 2015.

He currently lives in Stockton, IL.  In his free time, he enjoys exercising, spending time outdoors, reading, and cooking.