Outdoor Fitness: In your elements
With sunny days ahead it’s the perfect time to switch up your routine and enjoy nature with these great outdoor fitness routines…
If the idea of training in a gym sends shivers down your spine, exercising in the fresh air may be a much better fit. From team sports to pilates on paddleboards, there are loads of fun ways to keep fit outdoors as the weather improves. Importantly, if you enjoy outdoor fitness routines, you’re much more likely to stick to it, so keeping things varied can often be the key to success.
Elliot Milnes trains clients in parks, commons, gardens, and homes all over south-west London and says: “Getting out into the fresh air and open spaces even before contemplating exercise can reduce cortisol levels (the stress hormone), reducing insulin levels and thus maintaining good blood sugar levels so can help prevent cravings of sugary and fatty foods.”
“Sports are great to do as you forget you are exercising and work harder to achieve success. Tennis can burn between 500-600 calories per hour while rugby, hockey, basketball and football can burn between 600-800 calories per hour. Badminton can burn between 300-400 calories per hour and rowing can burn between 500-1,000 calories,” Milnes explains.
Eager to get out and try something new? Here’s what’s happening near you.
Whether you loved horse riding as a kid and haven’t got back in the saddle for a while or you’re a complete novice, horse riding is a great way to stay in shape. In order to stay balanced and keep from bouncing around in the saddle, riders need to engage their core muscles. Horse riding is an isometric exercise, which is where specific muscles are targeted to stay in a certain position. Riders will also work their inner thighs and pelvic muscles and an hour’s ride can burn as much as 400 calories.
There are lots of local riding schools to choose from including the Wimbledon Village Stables, Stag Lodge Stables near Richmond and the Kingston Riding Centre.
Walk this way
If you’re looking for low-impact workouts, exercise such as swimming and Nordic walking use most of the large muscle groups including lats, quadriceps, glutes and core.
Nordic walking is easy on the joints but tones the upper as well as the lower body and burns up to 45 percent more calories than normal walking. Me Spot runs Nordic walking sessions in Wandsworth, Putney and Earlsfield for its female members.
If your tastes are a little more rugged, trail running combines cardio fitness with the great outdoors. Visit Salomon’s Trail Running Festival on 23 June at Box Hill in Surrey where there will be trail running workshops, talks on where to run, communities, kit, nutrition and fitness, plus yoga sessions throughout the day, timed races and guided trail runs. Don’t fancy running? The 47km Surrey Trail Walk is held on 30 June and offers a more leisurely pace.
Why spend time on the treadmill and staring at four walls when you could be gliding around on the water? Proving stand up paddleboarding (SUP) isn’t just for the Mediterranean, Active360 runs paddleboard lessons from Putney along the Thames. A great core workout, SUP combines fun and fitness and the sessions are open to all abilities and ages. First timers pay £49 for a 1.5-hour trip, which includes all SUP equipment, and returning customers pay £20 for a 1.5-hour trip. Active360 will be running sessions from late April through until mid October.
Rock your river
Stand up paddleboard pilates is also coming to the Thames this summer. Classes will run from Brentford lock base across the water from Kew and boards are leashed together so no one floats away! The workouts claim to be great for targeting the core and the pilates classes (also from Active360) run until September. Previous experience of SUP or pilates is an advantage but not a necessity.
On your bike
While it may be hard to motivate yourself to hop on two wheels and go for a cycle in the rain, a bike ride under blue skies is as soothing for the soul as it is good for the body. A superb low-impact workout; an hour’s cycle burns up to 600 calories. If you want to work towards a goal, the Surrey Cycle Challenge is held in September and raises money for The Children’s Trust. The challenge offers two picturesque routes through Surrey’s stunning countryside – one at 46 miles and a 68-miler.
Heading to a bootcamp or a PT session can help keep your fitness routine varied and interesting. “Who wants to do an hour of the same thing? That’s where PT sessions or outdoor group classes can help. You can combine most of the exercises and skills from sports and you have an hour with a professional instructor,” Milnes adds.
Find a nearby bootcamp at your local park or common and you’ll soon see the results. Livfit runs bootcamps in Fulham, Jack Green Fitness runs sessions in Richmond and Milnes runs individual and group PT sessions in south-west London.
If you enjoy classes, Open Air Fit has classes ranging from women’s football to mixed circuits and ‘Mini Fit’ for kids and teenagers, while apps such as GoSweat can help you discover new outdoor classes in your area.
(All calorie counts are per hour of exercise and for an 80kg adult)