Five different outdoor fitness ideas
We take a look at outdoor fitness options that are a bit more out there
Kayaking is a low-impact sport which has numerous health benefits, and with the Thames flowing through south west London and out to Surrey, there are plenty of opportunities to put the open water to good use. Kayaking can help improve cardiovascular fitness, increases muscle strength and tones the back, arms, shoulders and chest, all the while being a fun and wholesome outdoor activity. Combining sightseeing with vigorous exercise on the Thames, the London Kayak Company lead tours from Greenwich to south London’s Battersea, taking you under some of the city’s biggest bridges, past London landmarks, and all in three hours, meaning the activity is a great work out.
If a light 5k Parkrun isn’t enough of a physical challenge, why not up the ante with a testing assault course designed to push you to your physical limit. Not for the faint-hearted, these involve splashing through mud, swinging on ropes and overcoming hurdles to complete a race. They are a fantastic source of exercise which boost your cardiovascular health and build up strength and endurance. Tough Mudders typically comprise of a 8 to 10-mile obstacle course, which can be trained for by combining running and trail running with strength exercises like weightlifting. The Nuts Challenge is a fun 4-17 mile assault course in Surrey, which consists of water obstacles, climbing and crawling. Or try the fun-looking Inflatable 5k at Kempton Park in Sunbury 6 April, where you flip, bounce and boing your way round.
Running is an accessible cardio sport that costs nothing but willpower. It improves aerobic and cardiovascular fitness, burns calories and builds strength. What’s more, with the number of runners across south west London and Surrey, while it is mainly a solo sport, it opens up doors to socialise with a community of like-minded people. Combine your running hobby with doing good for your local community by joining Good Gym – a group of runners that merge exercise with doing their good deed for the day. Take part in a mission run to help older people with day-to-day tasks, visit allotments to spend an afternoon community planting, or even spend your time sorting cans for a nearby food bank.
Horseriding can help improve overall muscle tone, flexibility and enhance core strength and posture. Mentally, spending time with animals is a real stress reliever and time riding in a bucolic setting can have a positive mindful impact. Richmond Park’s historic Stag Lodge Stables has more than 70 horses and a great team of friendly riding instructors trained to ride with people of all ages and abilities.
A popular pastime that has really taken off in recent years, paddleboarding isn’t just a sport reserved for the beaches. There are plenty of Thames stand up paddleboard (SUP) tours to take advantage of where you can glide along the river and hone your skills. Paddleboarding requires core stability and strength to stand upright on the board and maintain balance, with almost every muscle engaged in some way. It’s a low-impact sport meaning that your bones and joints are at minimal risk. Back of Beyond offers bespoke Thames taster sessions as well as group lessons. For those taking it easier, Back of Beyond also offer scenic SUP sessions that stop off at some of the waterside pubs, twilight SUP sessions and the opportunity to ‘SUP with your pup’ where you can take your four-legged friend along for the ride.