Before I list some ideas, there are 3 common, popular activities that fit into this concept. At the very least, you’ve probably thought of these by now: jogging, hiking, and biking. They’re all great, but let’s think outside the box for healthy outdoor activities that might not come to mind.
I’ll start with my personal favorite: tennis. For all of its reputation as a “country club” sport, it is rather inexpensive to start playing equipment wise. A decent racquet at Walmart will run you $30-40, a can of balls $5. Footwear-wise, though “tennis sneakers” per se are ideal, you can achieve the lateral movement you’d like with any lightweight sneaker that provides proper ankle support.
I’ve been playing since junior high & highly encourage people that are new to the sport to try it. It will test your cardio, focus, and coordination. If you can’t afford tennis lessons, there are so many online resources available to teach you. Intuitive Tennis provides a series of videos that instruct form for beginners. As for practice, google search the area you live for open tennis courts and convince a friend to join you on this journey! Or, if you’d prefer, that same search will also tell you where to find a backboard nearby to hit off. This is a great way to release some frustration before or after a long day!
Squats outside are another activity that many associate with the gym, but really can be a cardio workout for beginners. Start with no weight, and find an outdoor ledge or railing you use as a guide for balance & form (but not to lift you back up, unless you’re stuck – that defeats the purpose). This article details the proper form for squats, which is so important! There is also VOD on the Allwell.io app that visually walks you through the process.
If possible, set your phone to video yourself while doing them so you can correct any issues. Once you’re good, do 3 or 4 sets of however many repetitions you can handle. Your thighs will burn at first, but thank you later!
Speaking of activities that will test muscle & cardio that you’re not used to, swimming definitely qualifies! For me, swimming is the one sport that no matter how fit I am with other activities, can “kick me in the butt” & get me out of breath QUICK if I haven’t swam in a while. If you’re an experienced swimmer, find a public pool in your area that will allow you to do laps. Alternatively, holding the edge of a pool (a/k/a the “coping”) and just kicking the water is great cardio. Whether doing laps or kicking – similar to squats, do reps & sets, to build up your stamina.
Obviously considering the danger involved, we’d only recommend swimming to people who have taken lessons and are comfortable. That said, this is a good, comprehensive refresher course1 which will guide you as you advance..
Finally, if you’re someone that played a competitive, team sport in school like basketball or soccer, do a search for local recreational leagues in your area. Most of them offer the ability to compete with others in your age group as part of their programs. If you don’t have a “team” fully formed, many offer the ability to join a team that the league will form. Or, you may go down to the center and see if a team is looking for an extra player!
This is a wonderful way to “scratch that competitive itch” – and meet new friends that are also interested in improving their fitness!
1 YouTube.com “Beginner Swim Tips For Adults” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yhDbz19iXc