Guide to exercising outdoors

Enjoying exercise in the great outdoors

If your current fitness routine is looking a little tired and could do with some jazzing up, or perhaps you just fancy a change from the confines of your local gym then look no further than your own backyard. The solution to re-invigorating your workout is literally right on your doorstep: the great outdoors.

Whether it’s your local park, open space, woodland trail or forest, whatever the time of year, getting outside for your exercise training sessions can really boost your fitness program

Exercising in the great outdoors can help you:

  • Break out of a training rut
  • Set new exercise challenges
  • Rejuvenate your workouts
  • Broaden your exercise horizons
  • Get back to nature
  • Improve your current fitness levels
  • Have fun

What can be more energizing than an early morning jog in the woods to kick-start your day, firing up your metabolism and providing that all-over feel-good factor that only comes from outdoor training? There is endless variety with outdoor training sessions, both from the types of sessions that you can enjoy and also by choosing different locations.

In fact, you are really only limited by your own imagination. To whet your appetite and get you thinking, here are a few examples of what you can do with your exercise sessions:

Al Fresco exercise examples

Cardiovascular training
Body conditioning training Other training
Walking Outdoor circuit-training Martial arts

Military fitness training  Family activities


Bodyweight exercises (e.g.: press ups, squat thrusts etc) Yoga and flexibility sessions

In-Line Skating    

Getting started exercising outdoors

So, if you feel inspired by thoughts of breathing fresh, unpolluted air in the beautiful outdoors, what’s the best way to begin exercising outdoors? The best way is to link up with a friend, partner or group of like-minded people and start investigating the opportunities in your own neighborhood. A little map-reading will yield numerous opportunities and you may even surprise yourself by finding great al fresco locations right on your own doorstep.

Benefits of outdoor exercise

Training outdoors invariably means that your fitness levels are enhanced because your body is challenged in many different ways which the gym just cannot reach. For example, let’s consider jogging or running. In the gym, you are restricted to the treadmill — which is a very useful piece of equipment. However, when compared to running outdoors, it has many restrictions:

Outdoor running Treadmill running
For Against For Against
Invigorating Can be weather dependant Independent of weather conditions Can be boring
Scenery and fresh air May need additional specialist kit, e.g.: off-road shoes, cold weather clothing Can set specific times, speeds and gradients for structured sessions Doesn’t fully replicate proper running because you can only run in a straight line
Challenges the body and coordination through the ever-changing surfaces     Need to pay for gym membership
Costs nothing!     The ‘road’ moves rather than you, which isn’t true running
Fun     Can be stuffy indoors
Every session can be different     Dehydration can be a problem


Outdoor training session ideas...

At, we like to practice what we preach, so here are a few examples of al fresco workouts that we’ve found energizing, fun and make for great training ...

  1. Form an exercise group
    Link up with a group of like-minded friends and form your own jogging or running group. Take it in turns to research and plan out a different outdoor route for a different session each week. After a couple of months, you’ll have a great repertoire of sessions to pick from.
  1. Exercise in the park
    Use the facilities at your local park for an all-over bodyweight conditioning session. For example:
  1. Jog warm-up for 10 minutes
  2. Alternate brisk running with bodyweight exercises by running for two minutes, doing a set of 10 to 20 repetitions of an exercise, running again and so on. Try the exercises below for a good all-over-body workout:
  • Bodyweight squats (legs)
  • Press-ups (chest and triceps)
  • Tricep dips (triceps)
  • Sit-ups (stomach)
  • Back extensions (lower back)
  • Alternate leg squat thrusts (legs)
  • The plank (core)
  1. Complete two sets of the circuit and finish with a 10 minute cool-down and stretch.
  1. Use pedal power
    Cycling is a great way of getting fit, working the heart and lungs and also building strong legs. It is also a great family activity and there are an increasing number of traffic-free routes, trails and cycle-ways where the whole family can ride safely and you can enjoy a workout at the same time.

Inspired to exercise outdoors?

Hopefully, the suggestions above will get you thinking about the opportunities, benefits and all-round enjoyment that training outdoors can bring, so that the next time you’re packing your kitbag for the gym, you just might consider a different session. If you want a fresh, free and fun alternative to your workouts, go al fresco and invigorate your body.

Comments (1)

  • rollerbladingcomau 'In-Line Skating / Rollerblading is an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise great for fitness and has fifty percent of the impact to the joints of running. See the fitness article on for more info and don't forget that stopping lessons from an experienced instructor are a good idea.'

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