Change up your workout routine with these outdoor activities
Take advantage of warmer weather with these fun sports.
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As the weather warms up and the sun sets later in the evening, you may be looking to bust out of your gym routine and find ways to exercise outdoors instead. With so many ways to get moving outside, from cycling to tennis to hiking, it’s easy to find one (or two or three) you love. Most require minimal equipment and can be enjoyed with a friend, so grab your sneakers and your SPF and get out of the house.
Walking is one of the most underrated ways to exercise. It benefits your cardiovascular health by elevating your heart rate, and sneakily works your muscles, especially your legs and core. It doesn’t take much to get started, just a good pair of running or walking shoes, some comfy workout clothes, and maybe a good pair of headphones to blast your favorite playlist or podcast.
For a pair of walking shoes, check out the Brooks Addiction Walker 2. They’re designed to provide maximum cushion and stability to support each and every step, and reviewers say they’re comfortable for long walks or all-day wear. You may also want to consider a pair of running shoes, which provide comfort and support while walking but are designed to help propel you through faster footfalls should you want to start jogging or running (and they may last longer for walking because runners are typically made for durability). The Hoka One One Clifton 8 running shoes are a lightweight and flexible option that keep feet secure and comfy.
- Get the Brooks Addiction Walker 2 in men’s sizes for $130
- Get the Brooks Addiction Walker 2 in women’s sizes for $130
- Get the Hoka One One Clifton 8 in men’s sizes for $140
- Get the Hoka One One Clifton 8 in women’s sizes for $140
Riding a bike is a great way to enjoy the warm summer weather and extended hours of sunshine in the mornings or evenings alike. You can explore local roads and trails solo or with a group, or simply change up your commute by biking to work.
The first thing to know is there are different types of bikes to consider depending on how you prefer to ride. Road bikes are lightweight with narrow tires and dropped handles designed for fast paces over pavement. Mountain bikes have heavier frames, wider tires, and shock-absorbing features to help you more easily maneuver through rocky, uneven terrain. Hybrid bikes combine the smooth tires of a road bike and the heftier, more comfortable frame of a mountain bike for a happy middle ground that performs well on pavement and busier trails, and is a great option for beginner bikers.
You’ll also need a helmet to stay safe and protect your noggin in the event that you take a tumble as you navigate the roads and trails. Everyone’s head is different, so finding a good bike helmet will depend on what’s comfortable for you. You can buy both a bike and a helmet at a sporting goods store with an ample selection of cycling gear such as REI or Dick’s Sporting Goods.
- Shop hybrid bikes at REI
- Shop bikes at Dick’s Sporting Goods
- Shop bike helmets at REI
- Shop bike helmets at Dick’s Sporting Goods
Spend some time with Mother Nature this summer and go for a scenic hike. All you’ll need to hit the trails is the right footwear and weather-appropriate clothing. For short and flat treks, you can likely get away with a pair of running shoes. But for anything with a steeper gradient or rocky terrain, you’ll need a specialty pair of shoes. Hiking shoes are more flexible than your typical boot and hit below the ankle bone, like a sneaker. They’re well suited for relatively flat terrain on well-traveled trails. Day hiking boots offer a balance between flexibility and support, and are a good option for medium-intensity one- or two-day hiking trips. Finally, backpacking boots offer the most support and are best for intense terrain and/or long-haul trips—but note you’ll need to spend time breaking these in before putting them to use.
In addition to the proper shoes, you’ll want a pair of hiking socks (typically made of wool or synthetic fibers) to protect your feet from blisters and wick sweat while keeping odor down with antimicrobial properties.
Finally, you’ll want to check the weather ahead of time and be prepared. This could mean bundling up or opting for removable layers depending on the temperature, or bringing accessories like a rain jacket or sun hat for added protection.
As the weather warms up, you may be thinking about breaking out your sneaks and pounding the pavement. Even if you’re not a self-described “runner,” it’s easier than you think to get into a groove. You can start by alternating periods of running and walking and work your way up to jogging for longer periods of time.
But before you take off, you’ll need the right shoes. The right running shoes for you are the pair that feels most comfortable on your feet. A good place to start is a specialty running store, like Fleet Feet, where you can try on multiple pairs of shoes and talk with experts about which feel and look best. If you can’t visit a store in-person, you can order online from popular brands such as Brooks, which carries sneakers for both road running (Glycerin 20: men's and women's) and trail running (Caldera 6: men's and women's), and try your shoes on at home—both companies offer free returns, should a pair not work out.
For a dynamic team sport you can play with minimal equipment, try your hand at basketball. You can round up a team of five to play together in a local league, or head to a court on your own or with a buddy and join a pick-up game or go one-on-one. A simple Google search for “basketball courts near me” will point you in the right direction, but don’t forget your own basketball on your way out the door.
Another summertime sport you may want to give a go is tennis. Aside from the cute tennis skirts you get to rock, tennis is a great cardio workout and a blast to play with friends.
A good racket will be your best friend. As a general rule, the larger the racket head, the easier it is to hit the ball, so beginners may want to choose a larger racket to start. Most adult rackets are between 26 inches and 29 inches in length, you’ll just need to know your grip size, which you can easily find at home with a tape measure. You’ll also want to stock up on tennis balls, should you lose a couple on the court.
Head to the volleyball nets at your local park or beach for some fun in the sun! Like with other team sports, you can join a local pick-up game from time to time or form a team with friends and join a league. All you need is a ball to play with, and maybe an extra to practice with at home.
This lesser-known sport—an easy-to-play combination of tennis, ping pong, and badminton—took off during the pandemic. And thanks to the sport’s recent popularity, you’ll likely be able to find pickleball courts and leagues near you with a quick Google or Facebook search.
Pickleball paddles have a square head and are available online. The Amazin’ Aces pickleball set from Amazon is a well-reviewed option that comes with four rackets and four balls, so you have enough for yourself and your friends who want to join in on the fun.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.