How to Easily Start an Outdoor Exercise Routine

  • For those who don’t like working out in a gym, choosing to exercise outdoors can be a great alternative.
  • To start, build on what you love. If it’s hiking or biking, take longer walks and rides until you’re comfortable being active for about 45 minutes.
  • To stay motivated and consistent, it can help to recruit an exercise partner and get appropriate clothing that will keep you warm and dry in bad weather.

Between the smell of sweat, fluorescent lights and omnipresent television screens, April Herring never had a connection with the gym.

Instead, she runs, bikes, hikes, plays tennis, pickleball, and soccer — anything that allows her to exercise outside as often as possible.

“The fresh air, the sunshine, the variety of trees throughout the seasons,” said Herring, an administrator at Carroll Community College in northern Maryland. “There is something about the energetic healing quality of nature.”


The health benefits of spending time in nature have long been established, and exercise in general obviously improves physical and mental well-being.

Combine the two and you double what adults need to stay healthy, said Debbie Rhea, a professor of kinesiology at Texas Christian University.

“We need to get out. We need to be active,” Rhea said. “If we want to live a long life, this is what it’s all about.”

Runners compete for the title of “King and Queen” at the Alpine Training Center Gym in Boulder, Colorado, July 26, 2023. Exercising outdoors combines the health benefits of physical activity with those time spent in nature. (Scott Griesser via AP)

However, getting into an outdoor routine may not be as simple as signing up for another gym membership. Here’s how to do it.


If you haven’t been active in a while, think back to activities you did years ago, suggested Connie Sciolino, founder of the Alpine Training Center in Boulder, Colo., a gym that trains athletes for sports outdoor mountain.

People who occasionally enjoy hiking or biking should start building an aerobic base by taking increasingly longer walks or strolls. Once you’re comfortably in the 35 to 45 minute range, start adding some intensity to build strength, she said.

“If jogging is their main activity, I would send them to the bleachers or take them up the stairs, either in a sprint format or with a bag on their back,” she said.

Rhea cautioned against returning to a sport you’ve been doing without preparing your body for the proper movement.

“Let’s say they’re 30, 40, 50 years old, they haven’t sprinted and now they’re trying to run around these bases,” she said. “They’ll probably hurt their Achilles tendon or hamstring or something doing something too fast.”


Another benefit of exercising outdoors is that there’s no need to buy expensive equipment, trainers say.

After warming up…

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