4 ways to exercise outdoors

It's time to break the winter workout rut. No more treadmill runs and spinning classes. Break up the monotony with a hiking workout that will help put different muscles to work, boost cardio, and even burn some fat.

Folks may think of hiking as a multi-hour activity reserved for weekends and holidays. But quick 45-to 90-minute hikes can fit into most weekday schedules as well. What's the advantage of hiking fitness? Hiking, like running, is a weight-bearing exercise, which helps prevent osteoporosis. Then there's that dose of vitamin D—via the sun—and the surrounding landscape, which can be a nice respite from the gym.

Here is a list of four fun ways to exercise when you take your fitness plan outdoors:

  • Running

If you have gotten used to running on a treadmill, you are missing out on the added benefits that trail and street running provide. Studies show the lack of air resistance in a gym results in burning less energy than on an outdoor run of the same distance.

When taking your running plan outside, try to map a route that incorporates flat, uphill, and downhill segments to stimulate as many muscles as possible.

  • Hiking

If you're not into running, but still want a great cardiovascular workout, try hiking through a state or county park. If you live within driving distance to many parks, it is possible to schedule a different hike for each day so you do not get used to the same trails.

  • Kayaking/Rowing

Indoor rowing at the gym is a great way to tone your shoulders and back. Performing the same motions in a kayak, or a vessel designed for rowing, is an even better way to get a variety of motions to those muscle groups while enjoying a natural river, bay or lake.

  • Rock Climbing

If you're lucky enough to live near large rock formations, it is easy to find people who are dedicated to outdoor fitness through rock climbing. By practicing this exercise you will develop your upper-body strength and grip, and challenge your mind.