The 8 Outdoor Workouts That Will Get You in Shape Fast

Summer is the prime time of year to ditch your same old gym routine and try something new outside — you know, in nature. Trust me, the view is infinitely more exciting than what awaits you on the elliptical. The best part? Just five minutes of outdoor exercise can boost your mood, your self-esteem, and mental health, according to a study from the University of Essex. And, most of these workouts fall more into the "fun" category than the "exercise" one. Who can't get behind that? Ahead, eight workouts you may have heard of — with the body benefits that will convince you to actually get out there and do them.

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Kayaking

Kayaking is cardio with a major focus on your arms (it’s like those super-trendy rowing classes, except you actually get to, you know, row a boat). You’ll target your shoulders, triceps, biceps and more. Don’t worry, your legs won’t get left out — you’ll use them to brace yourself and balance in the kayak, which helps build strength.

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Beach Volleyball

Instead of just lazing around beachside, grab a ball and strike up a friendly competition with your girls — or the cute guys lounging near you. It’s not too tough when it comes to cardio, but will target your whole body, from shoulders to calves. Plus, the shifting sand is a constant balance challenge, making your legs work extra hard. You’ll earn that post-beach margarita.

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Hiking

This is not about a hillside stroll — to reap the rewards of hiking, you need to commit to the trek by choosing a location with an incline and, for bonus points, uneven terrain. The more you lift your legs, the more of a cardio workout you’ll get, and if you’re scrambling over rocks and trees, you’ll even get your arms involved, too. The view (and lunch) at the top will be totally worth it.

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Standup Paddle-Boarding

Stand-up paddle boarding is a killer workout — it may seem leisurely, but staying upright on that thin board is a major balance challenge, which forces all your muscles (especially your core!) to activate. A half-hour paddle in the bay or a lake will leave all your muscles quivering (the rougher the water, the harder you’ll work). 

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Rooftop Yoga

Yoga is all about centering yourself — where better to do that than in a location that practically forces you to find a new perspective? If you’re in New York or Los Angeles, we recommend Serene Social, a empowerment group hosting weekly yoga sessions on high-rises. If you’re not in the city, no worries — just drag your mat outdoors. You’d be amazing how quickly new scenery can invigorate your practice.

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Swimming

Sorry, we don’t mean your typical doggy-paddle in the deep end. For a real aqua workout, you’ve got to put in some laps (doesn’t matter if they’re out in the ocean, your neighborhood lake, or an area pool). But, the payoff is well worth the effort — it’s an all-over muscle toner, since you use your whole body to slice through the water; plus, it’s super low-impact, so you won’t have a workout hangover the next day. 

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Surfing

Surfing is the ultimate water workout — it combines the best elements of swimming and stand-up paddle boarding. You get a challenging upper body workout while paddling out to catch waves and pushing yourself up to a standing position; once you’ve caught a wave, your lower body steps up to keep you balanced and upright, no matter how wild your ride. Can’t make it to the beach? Try Surfset Fitness’ surfing-inspired classes at gyms across the country. 

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Outdoor Boot Camp

Part of the appeal of a gym is all the strength-training equipment that’s at the ready. Head to your local park, instead, and you can find everything you need for a full-body workout. Use benches for tricep dips, stairs for calf raises, playground bars for leg lifts — you can make it up as you go! (If you’re looking for someone to tell you what to do, and you’re in the New York area, we recommend the awesome Brooklyn Bridge Boot Camp.)

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