Make the Outdoors Your Gym

Make the Outdoors Your Gym

Michigan gives us the opportunity for many activities on land and in the water. When the weather is mild, your gym can be right outside your door.

Outside exercise offers the physical health benefits that come with cardiovascular activity and the mental health benefits of connecting with nature. Just getting out of the confines of your house can open you up to the possibilities of trying some different activities.

Research suggests that exercising in green improves your heart rate, lowers blood pressure and decreases levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Exercising outdoors also takes your mind off of your exertion, which helps you to stay active longer and push yourself a little harder.

Outdoor activities to try

  • The simplest, easiest exercise is a brisk walk. Regular walks can lower your blood pressure, prevent weight gain and boost your energy. All you need is a pair of supportive shoes. A one-hour walk burns more than 200 calories.
  • Hiking in sturdy walking or running shoes with good traction gets you out into nature and away from the daily grind. Your muscles will be challenged to work in different ways to keep you stable on uneven terrain, and a hike can burn about 430 calories per hour.
  • Running requires a good pair of running shoes. Preserve their support and cushioning by wearing them only for running—not while doing errands or playing other sports. Replace your running shoes every 300 to 400 miles. A 30-minute run can burn about 300 calories.
  • A one-hour bike ride, whether it’s through your neighborhood or along a park path, tones your legs and hips and burns up to 475 calories. (Learn more about bike safety first.)
  • Jumping rope is a great aerobic workout that improves coordination. Choose a lightweight rope with foam handles for a good grip. Once you feel comfortable, try jumping backward, scissoring your legs or raising your knees higher. You can burn more than 200 calories by jumping for 10 minutes twice a day.
  • Many area parks offer canoe, kayak and paddleboat rentals, and an hour of canoeing or kayaking burns about 340 calories.
  • Play a game of tennis. Many area schools have courts available on a first come, first served basis when school lets out. Tennis can burn about 540 calories per hour.
  • Golf is a great social sport that gets you outside. When you carry your own clubs, it’s a great workout for your arms, abs, back and shoulders, burning more than 300 calories an hour.

Getting started can be as simple as going back and forth to the mailbox, walking around the block with your family or taking the dog for a walk. Thirty minutes every day is an ideal goal to set, but if you can’t do that, set a goal you are able to achieve and build from there.


What are your favorite outdoor activities that provide exercise? Share them with us below.

The best chance of surviving a heart attack is to act quickly. Do not wait for symptoms to go away. Call 9-1-1 immediately, and chew an aspirin while waiting for the ambulance to arrive.