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Best Outdoor Workouts for Fall and Winter

While the fall and winter months might tempt us to cozy up indoors and forget about our physical fitness routines, it’s vitally important to stay active. Going to the same gym or exercise class during the colder part of the year can get repetitive, so let’s take a look at some of the outdoor exercise options you can try during fall and winter.

Key takeaways:

What is an outdoor workout?

Outdoor workouts are any kind of exercise that you choose to do outside in the natural world as opposed to an indoor session at a fitness class or gym. Outdoor workouts can range in intensity from brisk walks, easy hikes, and gentle yoga to challenging trail runs that test you to the edge of your fitness capacity. Whatever your ability and preference, there will be an outdoor workout that suits you and your fitness level perfectly.

Why is outdoor exercise good for you?

Outdoor workouts, also known as biophilia workouts, have a myriad of different benefits, including the following:

  • Physical health benefits. Regular outdoor activity is a great way to stay in shape, build muscle, and maintain a healthy weight — all while gaining the added benefits of breathing in fresh air to nourish the respiratory system.
  • Mental health benefits. Working out in nature may have a calming and balancing effect on mental health by helping to relieve stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression.
  • Vitamin D boosting benefits. Vitamin D deficiency is more common during fall and winter when people are more inclined to stay indoors. However, by incorporating outdoor workouts into your routine, you’ll be getting more natural sunlight exposure, which may improve levels of vitamin D.

Outdoor workouts vs. indoor workouts

Taking your workouts into nature can be a great way to spice up your regular gym routine and add some variety into your physical fitness practice. Let's look at some of the pros and cons of outdoor and indoor workouts.

Outdoor workouts

Indoor workouts

Outdoor workout ideas

Now that we've seen the benefits of taking our workouts into nature, let's explore some of the best outdoor workout ideas for this fall and winter season.

Hiking

Level: Suitable for all

Type of workout: Full body

Hiking is an incredible way to exercise outdoors during fall and winter — just make sure you wrap up snugly and prepare for changeable weather. Hiking is a full body exercise and often includes walking across rugged terrain, which exercises even the smallest muscles in your body as you navigate the changing landscape.

You can choose different types of trails according to your current fitness level and ability, and there are always friendly local hiking groups to join, which brings a social aspect into the activity. Why not plan a hike with some friends and bring a picnic and flasks of hot coffee with you?

Additionally, walking is one of the best ways to enjoy nature — spending time witnessing the beauty of the changing seasons as the warm fall colors shift to a cooler winter palette. Being away from the city, surrounded by nature, and taking deep breaths of clean, fresh air is also wonderful for the respiratory system.

Tip
Pack snacks for your hike so that you are adequately fueled for your journey, and always carry fresh water to stay hydrated.

Trail running

Level: Dynamic

Type of workout: Full body

Trail running is a type of outdoor workout that involves running across changeable terrain, usually in hilly and mountainous locations out in nature. It’s a dynamic and challenging full-body cardiovascular workout suited for those with strong fitness levels.

Taking your usual treadmill routine out into the hills may be even more beneficial for your mental health. Many trail runners report a greater sense of connection to nature, feelings of euphoria or the famous ‘runner’s high,’ and lower levels of stress and anxiety.

Tip
Make sure you invest in a good pair of trail running shoes that offer you the best possible support for running on uneven terrain.

Open-air yoga

Level: Suitable for all

Type of workout: Full body

Yoga is a wonderful practice for lengthening and strengthening the whole body, calming the mind, and finding a more balanced emotional state. Incorporating yoga into an outdoor workout is great for anyone who loves yoga and also likes to be outdoors.

You’ll want to roll your yoga mat out on a nice flat spot somewhere, either on some decking or perhaps find yourself some soft grass in the garden or local park. You could follow a routine online or design one yourself if you’ve had a bit of experience with yoga.

If you are doing an outdoor yoga workout during fall or winter, you’ll want to wrap up, as it’s important to make sure your muscles are warm while you are stretching them out.

Tip
For outdoor yoga during the cooler months, you might want to try wearing socks with a grip on the soles. These socks will help keep your toes warm and prevent slippage.

Outdoor group sports

Level: Suitable for all

Workout type: Depends on the sport

If you are someone who loves sports, then there’s no reason you can’t enjoy them during the fall and winter seasons. Most towns will have different clubs who play outdoors all year round, so you can get an outdoor workout in while playing something you enjoy.

Outdoor tennis courts are great anytime, but you do have to plan for the weather — it’s no fun serving a soggy ball in the pouring rain or skidding on the ground when it’s icy.

Soccer is another great sport that can be played outdoors all year, and a lot of teams will play through rain and snow. Just make sure you are properly warmed up and take lots of layers with you, which you can take on and off if needed.

Tip
Before joining a new sports club, go and watch one of their games so you can get a good feel for the camaraderie of the team you’ll be part of.

Fall and winter outdoor workouts for beginners

If you are completely new to the world of outdoor workouts, then perhaps begin with brisk walks around your local area before progressing onto longer hikes. Ensure that if you are going to engage in outdoor yoga, you choose a type that is gentle on the body and suitable for a novice.

As your fitness levels improve and you get used to working out in cooler temperatures, you can increase the intensity of your outdoor exercises. Because outdoor workouts are accessible to everyone, you can try different types of activity and find which suits you best.

Outdoor workouts with no equipment

You don’t need to rely on expensive equipment in order to exercise outdoors. If you are into bodyweight exercises like squats, lunges, and push-ups, you can perform them anywhere on any surface. You could even combine a hike with some HIIT exercises and utilize benches in your local park for step-ups or sturdy tree branches for pull-ups.

Final thoughts on outdoor workouts in the cooler months

Working out in nature year-round is an incredible way to exercise and witness the passing of each season with all the beautiful changes in colors and temperatures. There are many different activities to try, from solo trail running to group hikes and team sports, no matter your level of experience.

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