Are longer days and warmer temperatures beckoning you outside for a little outdoor fun? When it comes to staying healthy and fit, these 5 spring-inspired activities are sure to do the trick.
Combine your love of outdoor nature walks and swimming with a spring-inspired hike to a local waterfall or watering hole. Hiking is one of those family-friendly activities that is apt for everyone from kids to grandparents—it’s low-impact, great cardio exercise, and works out your strength, coordination, and agility skills. Not only that, but hiking has also been shown to improve mood and promote relaxation better than indoor treadmill walking.
A true test of balance and stamina, paddleboarding is a super fun spring and summer sport you’ll want to try with friends. It’s fairly simple; you get a large paddleboard in the water that is connected to your ankle with a velcro cuff, and then stand up to balance on it using a single oar to travel down the water and steer. Many local waterways feature vendors from whom you can rent the necessary equipment instead of having to purchase it.
Hit the water without getting too wet by rowing in any one of the assorted boat-type activities available on many lakes, rivers, and even beaches around the country. Kayaks are typically suited to one or two people at a time, while canoes can fit 3 to 5. Rowing is a serious upper-body activity that works the core, back, arms, and shoulders. Orthotic aids like shoulder braces can support active individuals recovering from tendonitis and other fitness injuries, especially when rowing.
Think gardening is just a simple hobby? Think again! From a fitness perspective, gardening gets people outdoors, digging, squatting, and hoeing using a mix of strength, coordination, and fine motor skills. While this is great for building bones and muscle, gardening has also been shown to improve cognitive function, stress levels, and feelings of depression. And a great bonus is that gardening, in turn, fuels a healthy diet, helping you incorporate more homegrown fruits and vegetables into your meals.
You may not have sat on a bike since you were a kid, but that’s little reason not to give it a try now that you’re an adult! Outdoor cycling offers the stress-busting benefits of engaging with nature while committing to exercise that is easy on the joints and great for the heart (and waistline). Researchers have also recently found that older adults (55 to 79) who routinely exercised by cycling had super healthy immune systems that mirrored those of young adults in their 20s and 30s.
Essential Spring Fitness Reminders
It’s always important to keep these quick considerations in mind when heading outdoors for lengthy periods of time:
- Use sun protection – sunblock, hats, long sleeves, sunglasses; you get the idea.
- Stay hydrated – carry around a reusable water bottle and drink often!
- Check the weather – sunny skies can quickly transform into stormy, windy weather; check local forecasts before making outdoor plans.
- Bring friends – outdoor fitness is always more fun when you do it with friends and family (don’t forget to take pictures!).
- Wear good shoes – depending on your activity (i.e., hiking versus cycling), you might want to switch up your footwear for more appropriate, well-fitting boots and shoes.
- Mind your allergies – if you are impacted by seasonal allergies, beware of high pollen counts that could aggravate them during the spring. Take allergy medicine regularly as recommended by your doctor.
Soga, M., Gaston, K. J., & Yamaura, Y. (2017). Gardening is beneficial for health: A meta-analysis. Preventive Medicine Reports, 5, 92–99. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmedr.2016.11.007
Niedermeier M, Einwanger J, Hartl A, Kopp M (2017) Affective responses in mountain hiking—A randomized crossover trial focusing on differences between indoor and outdoor activity. PLOS ONE 12(5): e0177719. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0177719
Duggal NA, Pollock RD, Lazarus NR, Harridge S, Lord JM. Major features of immunesenescence, including reduced thymic output, are ameliorated by high levels of physical activity in adulthood. Aging Cell. 2018;17:e12750. https://doi.org/10.1111/acel.12750