Looking to stay active this summer? Time to think outside the gym! Let's talk about 10+ activities for summer that get you outside and into your new happy place.
Think outside the gym!
Depending on what winter is like where you live, the gym might be your only option for physical activity that doesn't require hurtling down a mountain at excessive speeds—not that there's anything wrong with that!
This is certainly not an anti-gym post. Gyms are wonderful! They provide a place to push our limits and treat our bodies with respect. For many, they allow access to equipment and resources that simply aren't available at home.
After a long season of indoor training, however, it can be great to switch things up and get outdoors. That change of scene might just be just the boost you need to change up your gym routine, too, so the benefits extend beyond fresh air.
Let's talk activities for summer: things you can do, and where you can think about doing them.
Activities For Summer (That Aren't The Gym)
Like walking, but a bit more rough around the edges. If you've got a local trail system (which might be closer than than you think), treat yourself to some challenging terrain, rolling hills, and sweet views.
Hikes can be as tame as a walk on a flat path or as intense as scaling a fourteener, though some would argue you're past the point of hiking when you summit Pikes Peak.
While camping conjures imagery of idle moments—sitting by a fire, laying in a sleeping bag, etc.—the various activities that make up a camping excursion are absolutely outdoor activities. It's not always about miles moved or calories burned, after all! Outside is outside, and it can be exactly what's called for.
Check out your local state parks (or National Parks, if you've got those) as a starting place for great camping. You can also look into wilderness areas, which often have fewer restrictions on where you can camp.
Camping's more high-adventure cousin, backpacking relies on you and any adventure buddies carrying everything you need out into the backcountry. This can range from a well-attended trail loop with established campsites to a totally primitive, remote experience.
Backpacking in the summer can require careful planning about water sources, as hydration is as crucial as ever. In some cases, this means carrying in a lot of water or bringing along a purifying mechanism.
Many associate summer time with pool season, and for good reason: it's cool to stay cool! While it turns out you can still work up a sweat during an aquatic workout, the water certainly helps manage body temperatures and helps us feel refreshed.
Lap swimming is a great option for a cardiovascular workout that avoids the higher impact of land-based activities. If you can't swim, though, you can still safely take advantage of a shallow pool and the enjoyment of soaking up the sun that comes with it.
You don't have to enjoy swimming laps to get active on the water. Paddleboarding—whether you lay down, sit, or stand up—is an excellent way to get moving and to develop your balancing skills at the same time.
Despite the surf-like nature of this activity, you don't need to live near an ocean to give paddleboarding a try. Many rivers and lakes are suitable, and you're likely to find a place that'll rent you a board before you splurge on your own.
Maybe you like the seated part of paddling so much that you'd prefer to just stay that way. Kayaking might be for you! Like many outdoor activities, there is a broad spectrum of experiences you can have in a kayak, from floating atop placid lake waters to charging into some churning whitewater.
Like paddleboarding, kayaking is likely to be accessible to you on several different types of water, with the option to rent before investing your money in a rig. That said, better kayaks have become more affordable, so you may be able to own your own watercraft for less money than you think.
If you became an indoor exercise bike champion during the past couple of years, it can be easy to forget that there are actual bikes out there for you to ride. While biking outdoors can mean dealing with traffic, potholes, and adverse weather, it can also be an unparalleled recreational experience.
You don't have to go all Tour de France to enjoy the benefits of cycling, either. Find a local paved trail (or a mountain bike trail, which is like hiking for bikes) and take one for a spin. Try looking for local group rides, too, where someone can help you navigate common difficulties like flat tires and loose chains.
Whoa, you say, I thought we were talking about activities, like... sports and stuff.
Calm down there, partner. For one thing, gardening is an activity with a wide array of benefits: physical, mental, and spiritual. Not only that, gardening is a productive activity, meaning you come out of it having grown something to appreciate and maybe even eat. Seems like a pretty good deal!
Don't have a yard to garden in? Consider getting involved with a community garden.
Like biking, this is also possible to do indoors, but we're talking about activities for summer, so think outside! It's true that not everyone has access to outdoor rock climbing right where they live—we can't all be in Yosemite—but, like hiking trails, you might have walls closer than you think.
It's hard to get into rock climbing by yourself, so it's also a great excuse to make some friends who will show you the ropes (literally).
Sports (ft. Frisbee)
Okay, you might not be at a time in your life where you can make a huge commitment to organized sports. That doesn't mean you have to miss out on the wide variety of activities under the umbrella of sports.
Certainly legendary among flying objects, the frisbee is great for facilitating outdoor activity. You can casually toss with some friends or get a big game of ultimate frisbee going. Feeling more like a walk in the park? Try disc golf, using a frisbee's close cousin.
Whether it's a trip around the block, through a park, or a high-powered race walk, this is one great way to get outside that doesn't require fancy equipment or special circumstances.
With a walk, it's less about where you can do it—which is most places!—and more about when you can find time on your schedule. The benefits show that it's worth it to make time for it, even if you're focused on other active endeavors.
If you're not able to walk, you can get many of the benefits associated with outdoor walk in a wheelchair or with another mobility device.
Whatever you feel like!
There probably wasn't anything on this list you haven't heard of, but sometimes it's nice to be reminded of the many options there are for getting active outside. That said, there's no right way to do that this summer, and the best things you can do are the things you love most.
What are you favorite activities for summer?
You can follow along with my adventures here.