Gym memberships can be pricey; not only that, but so many people shell out a fortune for yearly memberships, only to give up on their fitness goals a few months in and make an appearance every now and then, definitely not getting their money’s worth. Last year, I wrote about ways that you can capitalize on fitness opportunities in college while you still can (when access to awesome fitness facilities is included with tuition), but as my time as a college student draws to a close, I’ll have to make an important decision: do I want to invest in a gym membership or can I motivate myself to workout on my own?
Before I make that decision, there are luckily a ton of ways to stay active now that the weather’s getting nicer. Whether you have a gym membership or not, don’t forget to take advantage of these gorgeous spring days and get outside. Running on a treadmill for half an hour can be a great way to burn some calories, but given the choice, wouldn’t you rather breathe in some fresh air and see new sights than stare at an unchanging wall? Here are some fun and easy ways to stay fit while taking advantage of the great outdoors.
Hiking is a great weekend activity to do with friends that won’t even feel like working out. With changing elevation and terrain, hiking works your legs muscles and provides cardiovascular benefits. It’s also therapeutic. According to Sheri McGregor, author of 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: San Diego, “Listening to the birds and a babbling brook, and enjoying the cool breeze of the forest, provides a break from daily stresses.” Pretty much wherever you live, there will be some kind of hiking trail nearby. Search online to explore your local options or take a daytrip to visit a National Park near you.
Go for a run (outside!)
Having the option to run on a treadmill is great for colder weather when you don’t want to face the brisk air, but when it’s warm outside, running outside provides a refreshing change of scenery. Plus, running is so easy. It’s the simplest thing there is. Sure, your lungs may be burning and your legs throbbing as you push yourself to keep going, sole to pavement, but all it takes is some good running shoes and a little willpower to make running outside part of your routine. You should start small and work your way up; begin with a quick jog around the block and build up to longer runs. According to WebMD, you should increase your time and distance by no more than 10% each week. Don’t take on more than you can handle and remember to stay hydrated.
Join a sports team
Don’t think that just because you’re not in school anymore, your sports days are over. Sports are a fun and social way to stay active. Going to the gym is such a solitary activity; even if you go with friends, you’re still focused on yourself- it lacks the teamwork element that makes sports so rewarding. Unless you live in the middle of nowhere, your town probably has several adult sports leagues you could join. Find out what’s available and sign up- you’ll have fun, burn calories, and meet new people all at the same time.
Kayaking is one of those activities that doesn’t look very hard until you actually get in the boat with the oars and have to propel yourself through the water. Trust me, you’ll feel it the next day! Kayaking is great for building upper-arm strength, and it also works you back and stomach muscles. Even if it’s a little painful at first as you learn to perfect your paddling technique, kayaking (like hiking) is a calm and relaxing activity that connects you with nature. Consider taking a class first to learn proper technique, how to roll the kayak if you capsize, and how to handle problems like getting stuck on rocks.
Hit the golf course
You don’t have to be an excellent golfer to enjoy the sport. For me, golf is a hobby. I’m no Tiger Woods, but I love spending time on the green practicing my swing. You may not think of swinging a golf club as a form of exercise, but walking from hole to hole across the whole course, up and down hills, is a lot of work! I definitely come away feeling pretty worn out.
Put your bike to use
Maybe you’re already an avid cyclist, but if not then you probably have a bike laying around somewhere that’s longing to be put to good use. Biking takes barely any effort, yet it’s an excellent cardiovascular exercise and it targets your quadricep muscles. Biking also allows you to explore your surroundings and if you use it as a form of transportation, it’s great for the environment. Just make sure you get the right sized bike to avoid putting too much stress on you back and knees.
There are so many fun ways to be active outside. Take a break from the gym or fitness videos and use the nice weather as an opportunity to get fit.