I’m the first to say that I love Gym. But sometimes getting outside to enjoy nature and feel the sun on your skin trumps a stuffy, usually overcrowded gym.

I always had a hard time dividing my time between structured workouts and my favorite outdoor activities, until I realized that these outdoor activities were actually adding to my fitness, not taking it away. Make a CrossFit training and mountain biking in the same day never ends well for my legs, anyway.

I always like to ask people, “How do you use your fitness?” This gets them thinking about what their time in the gym equals outside of the gym. Here are four ways to use my fitness that are ideal for the summer weather.

Read next: Do you hate exercise? 4 Ways to Make Workouts More Enjoyable

A mountain biker whips his rear tire on a dirt road

Mountain biking can also serve as a strength and cardio workout.

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Mountain bike

Main muscles worked: Quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, core, calves

Where: Designated mountain bike trails only

How to start: Rent a mountain bike to see if you like it; consider buying your own if you go there often

If you want a serious leg workout
look no further than Mountain bike. From beginner trails to double black diamonds, there’s a mountain bike challenge for every level of fitness and skill.

Steep hills, tricky switchbacks, and a variety of obstacles (rock jumps or skinny bridges, anyone?) will challenge muscles you didn’t even know you had. Your whole body will be working hard, but your legs will take the brunt of it.

Mountain biking is not just a bodybuilding, yet. It doubles as an intense cardio workout for both of you aerobic and anaerobic endurance. Don’t forget your helmet

a young woman looks up and smiles as she ascends a climbing route

Although it may seem daunting, climbing is not difficult for beginners.

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Climbing and bouldering

Main muscles worked: The whole body, but especially the fingers, forearms and obliques

Where: State and national parks, hiking trails, outdoor climbing parks

How to start: Search online for nearby rock climbing areas, try an indoor gym, rent or buy suitable gear, hire a guide or join a group

Want to feel like a kid climbing in a gym in the jungle again? Try rock climbing. Although it may seem daunting, rock climbing isn’t difficult for beginners, especially if you start out in an indoor climbing gym or take an outdoor climbing course to learn the basics.

There are different forms of rock climbing, but the most common for beginners are bouldering and free climbing. Bouldering involves climbing short routes on real boulders (or indoor rock faces) 15 feet high and shorter without a harness or rope. All you need are climbing shoes and chalk for this: skates are provided in the gyms, but you’ll need to bring your own for outdoor climbing.

Free climbing, also called lead or rope climbing, requires a harness that connects you to a rope, climbing shoes, and often a helmet to climb routes around 20 feet and longer. All types of rock climbing are a great form of exercise that works your whole body, from fingers to toes. Your fingers and forearms will be particularly sore afterwards.

Additionally, each route you climb (also known as bouldering “problems”) also works your brain because it’s a mental puzzle to figure out how to move your body to get to the top.

Whatever type of climbing interests you, it is extremely important that you do not climb alone outdoors as a beginner. Go with a group of people familiar with safe rock climbing practices or start in an indoor climbing gym where instructors can show you the ropes (literal and figurative).

elderly man stands on top of a paddle board in calm water

After only a few minutes of paddling, you will feel the burn in your arms, shoulders and back.

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Main muscles worked: Arms, shoulders, upper back, trunk

Where: Any natural body of water without vessel restrictions, weather permitting

How to start: Check your city for rentals, routes and tours

Choose a boat and get out on the water: paddle boards, kayaks, and canoes provide a fun and challenging way to explore lakes, rivers, canals, bays, and other bodies of water.

After only a few minutes of paddling, you will feel the burn in your arms, shoulders and back. You can also feel it in your heart
and hip flexors due to the stabilization needed to keep your vessel stable.

If you’re new to canoeing, consider attending a guided tour. Not only will your guide lead you through the canals and tell you interesting nature facts, but they can also give you tips for good paddling form, depending on the type of boat you are in.

On the other hand, if you’re feeling more adventurous and up for a challenge, try open water paddling. The ocean does not forgive!

Just be sure to check the weather before you go to avoid dangerous conditions and intensity surprises. I once went kayaking in Key Largo when a summer storm was coming, and the wind was blowing so hard I ended up spinning donuts in my kayak because I couldn’t right the boat up against the wind. Talk about a workout.

middle-aged couple enjoy snorkeling in blue-green water

Snorkeling is a great form of physical activity that engages all of your muscles from head to toe.

David Sacks/Getty Images


Main muscles worked: The whole body

Where: Any body of water designated for snorkeling (usually off a shore or sandbar, or in deep water with a guide)

How to start: Search local operations near your city to find gear rentals, self-guided snorkeling areas and guided tours

Before you scoff, be aware that snorkeling is surprisingly difficult – especially if you take a boat in front of the breakers and swim in the real waves.

Whether you stick to calm waters or brave the depths, snorkeling is a great form of physical activity that engages all your muscles from head to toe. Literally. Last time I went snorkeling my toes and arch hurt from kicking my legs with flippers.

In addition to the obvious movements (your arms and legs move to propel you through the water), your core is also well trained. Gliding through the water, making turns to view marine life, and gliding through the water all require core control and stability. Don’t be surprised if your abs hurt afterwards!

As with other water activities, check the weather before heading out. Most rental and tour companies do not lend equipment or schedule tours if the weather is bad or could become bad.

a young woman does yoga outdoors on a purple mat

Find your zen with outdoor yoga.

Photo by Prasit/Getty Images

yoga in the park

Main muscles worked: The whole body

Where: Any outdoor area where exercise is permitted

How to start: Find basic yoga poses or download a beginner-friendly yoga mat and take your mat to the park!

can be as hard or as easy as you want. That’s why it’s a great choice for summer training: it’s versatile, so you can adapt to how you feel on any given day.

To add an extra element of wellness to your yoga practice, try taking it outside. The sun and the fresh air can make everything even more zen. Check your city’s guidelines and regulations for outdoor fitness
in the parks in front of you roll out your mat.

Don’t forget to wear Solar cream if you try outdoor yoga or any of these outdoor summer workout ideas.

More fitness tips for better health

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical or health advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.