Ditch the Gym and Try These 10 Outdoor Activities

Have fun in the sun this summer. It may even help you drop a few pounds.

1 / 9

Ah, summer. The sun is warm, the drinks are cold and you don’t want to spend any time stuck inside a dark gym. Luckily, you don’t have to! You can stay fit and active while enjoying your time outdoors. Here are eight fun-in-the-sun workouts you must try this season.

Medically reviewed in December 2019.


2 / 9 Walking

Why get stuck on the treadmill when the weather is so beautiful? Walking is a great way to get outdoors, breathe in some fresh air and sneak in your daily workout. Walking at a moderate pace can burn 280 calories an hour in a 150 pound adult.

Getting yourself a fitness tracker could help. A small 2015 study found that nearly three of four participants maintained or increased their step goals by week 4 of a 16-week program while wearing a tracker. No need to purchase a fancy tracker when you could use your phone. The Sharecare app (available on iOS and Android) has a step counter to help you track your progress and stay motivated.

Swimming and Water Exercise

3 / 9 Swimming and Water Exercise

When it’s hot outside, it feels great to take a dip in the pool, ocean or lake. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), swimming and other water-based exercises offer a number of benefits, especially for people with arthritis. Swimming helps those with rheumatoid arthritis more than other fitness activities. Water-based exercise also improves joint health and decreases pain in people with osteoarthritis. You don’t even need to do laps—just swimming leisurely can burn more than 400 calories an hour.


4 / 9 Biking

Riding a bike is a fun way to get where you’re going—and get fit on your way there. An easy ride can burn 290 calories an hour, while more vigorous pedaling can burn nearly 600. Unfortunately, there are several injuries associated with biking. Hospital admissions for bike injuries more than doubled from 1999 to 2013, so make sure to wear a helmet and bright, reflective clothing, and follow the rules of the road.


5 / 9 Golf

Next time you hit the green, do your waistline a favor and skip the golf cart; walking and carrying your clubs can burn up to 330 calories per hour. Just watch your back when you’re shouting “fore!” A 2014 analysis found that lower back pain was the most common health complaint of golfers, likely due to the twisting nature of a golf swing. 


6 / 9 Tennis

Not only is tennis a great workout, but there’s something satisfying about whacking the ball over the net, too! Singles tennis can burn up to 549 calories per hour, according to the American Cancer Society. Plus, tennis can strengthen your muscles; running and jumping helps keep your legs toned, while swinging the racket and hitting the ball works your arms.

Gardening and Yard Work

7 / 9 Gardening and Yard Work

Staying fit might be a compelling reason to knock out some of your chores. Light gardening or pushing a lawnmower can burn about 330 calories per hour. Cut the grass, plant some flowers and two hours later you’ll have burned the equivalent of a Big Mac, with a little room to spare.

Lawn Sports

8 / 9 Lawn Sports

Now that you’ve mowed the lawn, it’s time to play yard games. Playing a game of Frisbee or horseshoes will burn about 200 calories an hour, and croquet can burn 225. But if you really want to turn up the heat, try Ultimate Frisbee. It’s fun, fast-paced and can help you shed 544 calories.


9 / 9 Paddling

Canoeing, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding aren’t just for sightseeing—they can help you stay active. Paddling a canoe will net you about 240 calories per hour, while kayaking is a little more vigorous, burning about 340 calories per hour. Stand-up paddle boarding is a serious workout that can improve balance, exercise your core and strengthen your bones. It also burns over 400 calories per hour.

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