When the scenery is beautiful and the temperature perfect, almost any activity--including exercise--seems more fun and enjoyable. Here are 7 worthwhile pastimes that can help you get fit, burn calories and enjoy the outdoors this spring!
*All calorie counts based on a 145-pound woman; men and individuals who weigh more will burn more calories.
Even if you're not a pro, tennis is a fun sport for people of all ability levels. Racquets and a can of balls are inexpensive (about $25) at big box stores like Target or Wal-Mart, plus you can find used ones at spring garage sales or secondhand sporting goods stores, too. Whether your play with a friend, significant other, or by yourself (any large wall will do), you'll burn almost 500 calories per hour. Look for clinics this spring if you want lessons, or try the fitness class Cardio Tennis at a court or tennis club near you!
Spring is the season for 5K races, as well as marathons, 10Ks and other distances. All the training leading up to the event is worth the great experience you'll have on race day! Check out SparkPeople's free 5K and 10K training programs to get started, or join a local running group to train for an upcoming race in your area! Walking at a 15-minute per mile pace, you'll burn 228 calories during a 5K; running at 6 miles per hour burns 341 calories for the same distance.
When you do yard work manually, without a motorized mower, hedger or blower, you'll increase the intensity and calorie burn. Gardening (and the planting, weeding and pruning that comes with it) is a wonderful way to enjoy the outdoors and take pride in your home's appearance. General yard work burns about 300 calories per hour--not a bad way to work out while you beautify your home!
You probably haven't played Frisbee golf or "disc golf" since gym class, but Frisbee golf is fun for kids and adults. Plus, it's an inexpensive pursuit. Most courses are free--you just have to know where to find them. The Professional Disc Golf Association's Website makes it easy to find the nearest of 2,875 U.S. courses, most of which are in local parks or college campuses. Expect to spend a couple hours walking and on your feet to complete a single course and to burn about 220 calories per hour.
A great low-impact alternative to walking, biking is a great way to return to the outdoors this spring. Many bike paths and trails are available in major cities and small towns alike. Whether your bike for transportation (to work or while running errands) or fun, you'll burn 270 calories per hour (at a 10 mph pace) and strengthen your legs and lungs at the same time! Get started with these bicycle safety tips.
On the first few days of spring, you'll find motorcycles, convertibles, and scooters out in full force as drivers jump at the chance to bring out their "babies" for a spin after a long winter in hiding. You'll also see long lines at the car wash. There's something about spring that makes us want to clean up our cars. Save money and do it yourself by hand washing, drying and waxing your car at home (or at the DIY car wash instead of the automatic one). With a little elbow grease, she'll be shining in no time and you'll have burned 250 calories in an hour's time.
Hiking is the perfect way to work out during spring. The uneven terrain and inclines you encounter on the trail force your body to work harder than walking on a flat surface. That means you're recruiting more muscle fibers (to adjust to the terrain) and challenging your balance (therefore engaging your core). That translates to a bigger calorie burn: 400 calories per hour, to be exact. Plus, the scenery, sounds and scents along the way are so beautiful that you'll forget you're huffing and puffing as you climb the hills!
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