15 Best Outdoor Activities During COVID That Fitness Trainers Love

As you’ve probably learned over the last two years, there are some major pros to working out in your own home. For one thing, you can go from sitting at your laptop to warming up for a bodyweight sesh in about two minutes flat. And these days, it might also feel safer.

Still, we get that at-home workouts may be starting to seem a little bit stale. The good news? Heading to the gym isn’t the only other way to get a good sweat in. You’ve got another option waiting for you right outside your door—literally. Below, trainer recommendations for the best outdoor activities to try, and why they’re great for staying on top of your fitness during the pandemic—and beyond.

Why You Should Take Your Workout Outdoors

Outdoor activities are safer across the board, says Joseph Khabbaza, MD, a pulmonary and critical care doctor with Cleveland Clinic. Exercising causes you to breathe quicker and more deeply, and therefore has the potential to generate more droplets, he explains. Those droplets and particles, which transmit infection, spread more easily between people indoors because they’re often present in a higher concentration, according to the CDC.

Khabbaza notes that while it’s unlikely that you’ll contract COVID-19 while doing something like jogging or biking outdoors by yourself, keep in mind that outdoor exercise isn’t entirely risk-free, especially if you don’t opt for a solo activity.

“There might be risk if you’re doing big group runs or races with a lot of people you don’t know,” Khabbaza says. “And that risk may be higher in the Omicron era just because of how transmissible [the variant] might be.” (Note: According to recently updated information from the CDC, the Omicron variant does spread more easily than the Delta variant and the original COVID-19 virus.)

That said, Khabbaza says he feels safe participating in these kinds of activities knowing that he’s vaccinated and boosted. “And just in general, I feel the transmission would be very low outdoors,” he adds, especially with people in motion. The risk comes in when you have to be in close, sustained contact with people you don’t know, but even so, it’s lower if you’re vaccinated, Khabbaza says.

Things To Consider When You Work Out Outside

Of course, if you’re not the lone wolf type when it comes to exercise, knowing who you’re going to work out with (and their vaccination status) can help you to stay safe, Khabbaza advises. You also should consider local case counts if you’re planning on participating in something like a group race.

Beyond your personal risk tolerance, remember to take others into account, too. If you end up doing a big group outing or event, Khabbaza says, and you’re around a lot of people for a sustained period of time, avoiding vulnerable people in your life afterwards might be beneficial. At least, he adds, keep a close eye on any developing symptoms as an extra precaution. And if you do get sick after attending a larger gathering, see these CDC guidelines for next steps.

Finally, regardless of whether you’re heading out for a solo or group sesh, remember this tip from Khabbaza: Keep your hands away from your face.

“As time went on with the pandemic, we realized surfaces are really not a big mode of transmission like we initially feared they might be,” he says. So, things like, say, touching playground equipment (hint, hint!), are probably low-risk. Still, Khabbaza recommends not touching your eyes, nose, or mouth and giving the virus an opportunity to enter your body. And, of course, wash or sanitize your hands often.

15 Best Outdoor Activities

Now that you’ve got the lowdown on why outdoor fitness activities are a great option during the pandemic, read on for some trainer ideas as to how you might get started. We’ve grouped them below based on what you might have access to in your area, whether you’re lucky enough to live by the beach or simply have some open space in your backyard. Catch ya outside!

If you have access to a playground…

You can get a solid full body workout at your local playground, according to NCSF-certified personal trainer Elise Young, who prefers to jog there early in the morning before others arrive. “It’s so important to have fun with movement,” she says, “and a playground provides a ton of effective ways to upgrade your workout while also having fun!” Here are four playground staples you can use as fitness equipment:

1. The Slide

Young recommends doing pushups at its base.

2. The Monkey Bars

Young suggests practicing them to build your upper-body strength.

3. The Swings

There are a couple of different options here. Young says you can put your feet on them for core tucks, and NASM-certified personal trainer Angela Gargano suggests this simple swing workout:

  • Get in a plank position with your hands on the ground and your shoelaces on the swing. Drive your knees in toward your belly, then extend them out again. Repeat 10 times.
  • Put your hands on the swing. Push it out so you’re extended a bit more than you would be in a plank position, then bring them back in. Repeat 10 times.
  • Swing for one minute.
  • Repeat the circuit four times.

    4. The Park Bench

    As it turns out, this is a super versatile piece of makeshift equipment. Young recommends using it for step-ups, and personal trainer Toni Livers adds elevated pushups, dips, and Bulgarian split squats to that list.

    5. Actual Fitness Equipment

    If you live in New York City, you can use this website to find a park in your neighborhood with equipment you can use for pullups, dips, crunches, and more, says NASM-certified personal trainer, actor, and activist Taylor Rae Almonte. San Francisco, too, has the Marina Green Fitness Court. Consider searching for similar setups in your area.

    If you live by water…

    Young says she loves to do these outdoor activities, too:

    6. Paddleboarding

    Not only is the activity fun and relaxing (trust), but a small 2016 study published in BMC Sports Science, Medicine, and Rehabilitation also found that it can come with some health and fitness benefits: It could contribute to improvements in aerobic and anaerobic fitness and quality of life, according to study authors. Plus, they noted, it’s low impact.

    7. Kayaking

    Like paddleboarding, this is a fun way to focus on fitness. Powering and paddling the kayak can build muscle strength in your torso and legs as well as your arms, back, shoulders, and chest. And don’t be intimidated by the equipment — if you’re a beginner, this guide from REI might come in handy.

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    If you have access to a beach…

    First of all, lucky you! Second, know that it’s good for more than just lounging. Here are two activities you might want to try:

    8. Running On The Beach

    This is another suggestion from Young. But take note: It’s a *bit* tougher than your average jog. If you’ve never tried it before, WH has some tips to make it a success, like making sure to warm up your legs and running for time, not mileage.

    9. A Bodyweight Workout

    “Moving in the sand adds extra resistance and makes everything a little more challenging,” says personal trainer and coach Kristina Centenari. Here’s her suggested routine:

    • Pick three to five bodyweight exercises, like squat jumps, lunges, planks, or jumping jacks.
    • Do 40 seconds of work followed by 20 seconds of rest for each movement.
    • Repeat at least three times.

      Pro Tip: Go barefoot, Centenari says, to train often-ignored muscles in your feet.

      If you live near a stadium…

      10. Hit The Stairs

      “Stairs are such a great way to get your heart rate up while staying agile and coordinated,” Centenari says. Here’s her suggested EMOM (every minute on the minute) workout:

          • Set a timer for 10 to 20 minutes.
          • In the first minute, run up and down the length of the stairs.
          • When you get to the bottom, use the rest of the minute to recover.
          • At the top of the next minute, do it again.
          • Repeat until the time has elapsed.

            If you’re near a golf course…

            11. Visit A Driving Range

            This idea comes to you from Almonte, and it’s more than just a way to build a new hobby. Taking swings works your arms, shoulders, and core, and it’s a great stress reliever, WH previously reported.

            If there’s a track nearby…

            12. Try One Of These Workouts

            We promise they’re not *just* running. Gargano recommends repeating this sequence five times:

            • 10 burpees
            • Two-minute jog
            • 30-second side shuffle (right leg in front)
            • 30-second side shuffle (left leg in front)
            • 30-second carioca (right leg in front)
            • 30-second carioca (left leg in front)
            • 30-second sprint

              And NASM-certified personal trainer Lacee Lazoff suggests four to five rounds of doing these moves and combos for 60 seconds, with 30 seconds of rest in between each one.

              • Animal crawls forward and backward (switching directions after 30 seconds)
              • Lateral skips left and right (switching directions after 30 seconds)
              • Bodyweight single-leg deadlifts on the left and right sides (switching sides after 30 seconds)
              • Five jump squats followed by a 200-meter sprint
              • Hollow body hold for 20 seconds, 20 seconds of rest, then hold for another 20 seconds

                Or if there’s a football field…

                “Many of us have been working out indoors in smaller spaces within our homes,” Young says, “so I love to get out and open up the space.” Her suggestion:

                13. A Turf Workout

                Sprint 40 yards, then do walking lunges for 20 yards, using the numbers on the field to guide you. Repeat for 10 minutes.

                If all you’ve got is some open space…

                Don’t fret. We’ve got ideas for you, too. Here’s what you might try:

                14. A Shadow Boxing Workout

                Almonte recommends this activity, and it requires minimal equipment. She suggests doing the following exercises:

                    • Three minutes of jumping rope (three rounds)
                    • Three minutes of footwork with jab only
                    • Three minutes of shadow boxing and punches
                    • Three minutes of nonstop jab crosses

                      If you have the Peloton app, you can try the recently launched Get Hooked: Peloton Boxing, a two-week program that begins by walking you through boxing basics.

                      15. Jumping Rope

                      Certified functional strength coach, personal trainer, and founder of PowerInMovement Kehinde Anjorin notes that this is a great activity to get your heart pounding. Pick a bodyweight movement, she suggests, and alternate between one minute of that exercise and one minute of jumping rope. Repeat for three to four rounds, resting for two minutes in between each round.

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      By Betty C. Giordano

      Welcome to my site. My name is Betty C. Giordano and I am a blogger of everything related to mobile, news, events and reality in general. I hope you enjoy reading my content.

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