Outdoor Fitness: Making the Best of the Last Days of Summer

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The last few weeks of summer are here and for those of us who live in areas that get awful winters, it’s hard to justify working out inside. The good news is, not only do you not have to, you have more options than running or walking to help you stay fit.

If you live in an area with hiking paths or nature trails, take full advantage of these! Hiking is a great way to give your body a cardio workout that helps build endurance for when you’re in the saddle. Depending on the trail, these hikes can be extremely challenging: you’ll be doing stairs, going up and down hills, climbing, and even balancing depending on the difficulty and how dangerous you like your hikes to be. As a bonus, not only will you be able to soak up some sunshine, it can give you a nice long break away from the stresses of your daily life.

Swimming is a great way to keep fit during the summer, but that’s not the only water-related activity you should make time for. Kayaking is a great way to build on those upper body and core muscles needed to keep you steady in the saddle. If you live somewhere that surfing is an option, hit the waves to work on your balance and core strength. Windsurfing is a great option, too, since you’re using your whole body to keep yourself balanced on your board and keep your sail steady. If you’re looking for a less extreme way to enjoy the water on a board, check out standing paddle boarding. This activity combines surfing and kayaking by having you stand on a board and use a paddle to row yourself around. Again, this helps work your core, upper body, and legs to help keep you balanced — especially if you’re trying to stay balanced in the wake of a boat or on a windy day.

If hiking or water sports aren’t your thing, consider cleaning up your garden before fall. Yard work, whether it’s trimming bushes, hauling bags of dirt, or digging up new flowers and planting new ones, burns more calories than you might think. Just like doing housework, gardening is one of those things that need to be done that also has great health benefits. Not only are you soaking up that sunshine, you’re working your whole body, too. Plus, you’ll be happy next spring and summer when those bulbs you plant start to grow and bloom.

However you spend your last few weeks of summer, making sure you take some time to get outside, away from your phone and computer, and even away from the barn. Give yourself a mental break and have some fun before fall and winter roll in.

Nicole is a writer for Heels Down Media. If she's not writing or editing, she's either running, doing yoga, or at the barn working on becoming a better, stronger dressage rider.

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