I love running in the winter. Sure, it starts off icy cold, but half a mile in, I'm feeling warm, and the chill soon melts away. Running in warm weather is the opposite story. It feels like there's a heater blowing in my face. I'm slower and less energetic. By the time I'm done, I'm drenched in sweat and panting like a dog.
Needless to say, running is not my warm-weather workout of choice. But I still like to keep a regular exercise routine in the spring and summer months. Here are a few activities that will give your regular cardio and strength routines a run for their money. You'll have so much fun that you won't even feel like you're exercising.
01. Rock Climbing or Bouldering
Don't be intimidated. Rock recreation is great for all levels, from beginners to experts. I once saw an eight-year-old girl out-climb experienced climbers in their twenties. If you're just starting out, take a brief top-roping tutorial at your local climbing gym. Once you get the hang of safety and climbing techniques, perfect them via bouldering—shorter climbs that you don't have to harness in for. Bouldering routes are complex and test different skills to help you become a stronger, more flexible, and more efficient climber. Bouldering works out your hands and forearms the hardest, but your arms, shoulders, and back will get stronger, too. While you use your hands to grip, your core is what holds you onto the wall, so you'll develop strong abs and better balance.
Cool water and a cute swimsuit. Need I say more? Swimming is one of the best full-body workouts. You're working your cardiovascular system hard as your muscles cut through tons of water. Incorporating swimming into your regular routine helps build longer, leaner muscles and strengthens your core and your heart. It also builds flexibility and endurance. Challenge yourself by setting goals for distance, speed, or both. Or remaster strokes from all those swimming lessons back in the day.
According to livestrong.com, playing volleyball for forty-five minutes burns more than five hundred calories. You'd have to stroll for three hours or jog for two hours to get the same effect. Volleyball also improves hand-eye coordination and strengthens and develops fast reflexes. Ready? Set! Spike!
04. Dodgeball, Soccer, or Kickball
While these activities may hark back to picking teams in middle school, they still make for good workouts as adults. In fact, a new study indicates soccer could be the best way for people who suffer from hypertension to improve their fitness, normalize their blood pressure, and reduce their risk of stroke.
Playing high-aerobic sports such as these twice a week for an hour each increases both maximal and moderate exercise capacity, meaning that they make it easier to train for harder activities and "everyday life activities such as cycling, walking upstairs, [and] shopping," the study notes. The high-intensity movement of running or dodging for sustained periods of time improves oxygen uptake and resting heart rate while promoting a decrease in body fat mass.
05. Ultimate Frisbee
If you want to improve hand-eye coordination, but volleyball isn't your cup of tea, try Ultimate Frisbee. It mixes catching and throwing with a bit of running and a lot of team spirit. Ultimate calls for increased sprinting and endurance running, incorporating elements of high-intensity interval training. You'll also increase your agility through the quick turns, pivots, throws, and jumps. Add in squatting or jumping to catch a disc, and Ultimate Frisbee is a full-body workout.
06. Nature Hike or City Walk
Trekking is good for body and mind. Doing a city tour or nature walk where you live is a great way to explore your surroundings in depth. Besides the nice views and fresh air, walking is also a powerful cardio workout. As a weight-bearing exercise (an activity that makes you move against gravity while staying upright), walking boosts bone density. You'll strengthen your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and the muscles in your hips and lower legs. You'll also improve balance as you practice maneuvering around obstacles. Another great perk? Taking a walk boosts your mood. "Research shows that hiking has a positive impact on combating the symptoms of stress and anxiety," says Gregory A. Miller, Ph.D., President of the American Hiking Society. "Being in nature is ingrained in our DNA, and we sometimes forget that."
Because you're pedaling, you may think that biking is just a workout for your legs. But cycling is an allover workout that tones your upper body, too. Moving the handlebar tones your arms and core while pedaling drives your glutes, quads, and hamstrings. Biking also puts less stress on your joints than running or walking, as you aren't bearing as much weight on your back, knees, and ankles.
As for a workout that doesn't feel like working out, biking is a clear winner. A study from Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics found that bike riding improved energy levels by 20 percent and decreased fatigue by 65 percent. Cycling triggers your brain to release dopamine, which is linked to our feelings of energy. No need to overexert yourself at the wheels. Participants who pedaled at a low to moderate pace—as opposed to a moderate to high-intensity pace—three times a week fought fatigue best.