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Maximise Your Weight Loss with Outdoor Fitness

It’s a big world out there and engaging with the great outdoors is a fantastic way to lose weight and improve your overall well-being. As a coach, I’m a proponent of exercising outdoors when the Scottish weather allows. Having gone hillwalking with some of our clients, I’ve seen how exercising in nature can make a big difference physically and mentally. This guide will cover the many benefits of outdoor fitness, how to get started, and tips for staying motivated and consistent. So, lace up your trainers and let’s get moving!

The Benefits of Outdoor Fitness

Physical Health Benefits

Engaging in outdoor fitness can significantly boost your physical health. Regular outdoor exercise can improve cardiovascular health, enhance muscle strength, and increase flexibility. With an activity like hill walking the varied terrain and natural obstacles you encounter outdoors provide a more comprehensive workout in comparison to a controlled gym environment.

Mental Health Benefits

One of the biggest advantages of outdoor fitness is its positive impact on mental health. Being in nature reduces stress, improves mood, and enhances mental clarity and focus. For me personally, I love clearing my mind by going for a walk with the dog. I’ll even sometimes take clients for a walk through Kelvingrove Park (near the gym) when they feel particularly overwhelmed. The combination of fresh air and physical activity always works wonders.

Additional Benefits

Outdoor fitness also increases your exposure to sunlight, boosting your vitamin D levels, which is important for bone health and immunity. Plus, the enjoyment and variety of outdoor activities can make exercise more enjoyable, helping you stick with your fitness routine in the long run.

Getting Started with Outdoor Fitness

Assess Your Fitness Level and Set Goals

Before diving into outdoor fitness, assess your current fitness level and set realistic goals. This will help you choose the right activities and track your progress. Remember progress, not perfection.

Choose the Right Activities

Find activities that you enjoy and are suitable for where you currently are in your fitness journey. Walking is a great place to start for most people. Running, hiking, cycling, and outdoor fitness classes are all excellent choices too. Starting with activities you enjoy increases the chances that you’ll stick with them even if the weather is less than friendly.

Grant and Davie Hillwalking

Essential Gear and Safety Tips

Investing in proper footwear and clothing is essential for comfort and injury prevention. If you’re a cyclist, make sure that your bike is well-maintained and road-worthy. Always stay hydrated, use sun protection when necessary, and be mindful of the weather. If it’s too hot, consider exercising early in the morning or later in the evening when it’s cooler.

Types of Outdoor Fitness Activities

Walking and Hiking

Walking is a fantastic low-impact exercise that’s easy to start and can be done by almost anyone. You can incorporate walking into your daily routine by parking farther from your destination or taking short walks during breaks. Hiking adds an extra challenge with varied terrain and can be a great way to explore local parks, trails or the beautiful Scottish Highlands. I’ve enjoyed bagging a few munros in my time and recommend you give it a try.

Walking downhill

Running and Jogging

If you’re ready to take it up a level or two, running and jogging are excellent for cardiovascular health and weight loss. If you’re just getting started, begin with a mix of walking and jogging, gradually increasing your running intervals. Adding interval training can enhance weight loss by boosting your metabolism.

Running on a beach

Cycling

Cycling is a low-impact exercise that’s easy on the joints, making it ideal for older adults. Whether you ride a bike on trails or streets, it’s a fun way to get a full-body workout. Be sure to always wear a helmet and follow local cycling safety rules.

Strength Training in Nature

Who needs a gym when you have the great outdoors? Use your body weight and natural surroundings for strength training exercises. Park benches, playgrounds, and trees can be perfect for push-ups, step-ups, and pull-ups. If you’ve got a garden needing a bit of work, kill two birds with one stone. Functional fitness exercises mimic everyday movements, making them incredibly beneficial.

Skipping

Outdoor Group Fitness Classes

Joining outdoor fitness classes can provide social benefits and accountability. Classes like boot camps and yoga, offer a structured workout with the added motivation of a group setting. Plus, meeting new people with similar fitness goals is always a good thing.

Outdoor Yoga

Creating a Balanced Outdoor Fitness Routine

For a well-rounded fitness routine, combine cardio, strength, and flexibility exercises. This balance ensures you’re working all muscle groups and improving overall fitness. Here’s a sample weekly plan:

  • Monday: Brisk walk or light jog for 30 minutes.
  • Tuesday: Strength training using park equipment.
  • Wednesday: Rest or light stretching/yoga.
  • Thursday: Cycling for 45 minutes.
  • Friday: Hiking or interval training.
  • Saturday: Group fitness class.
  • Sunday: Rest and recovery.

Importance of Rest and Recovery

Don’t forget to rest. Your body needs time to recover, especially as you age. Incorporate rest days and listen to your body to prevent overtraining and injuries.

Staying Motivated and Consistent

Find a Fitness Pal or Join a Group

Having a fitness buddy or joining a group can keep you accountable and make exercise more enjoyable. A friend or group can offer motivation and also some friendly competition.

Set Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

Set achievable short-term goals that lead to your long-term objectives. Don’t forget to celebrate targets along the way to stay motivated. For instance, if your long-term goal is to lose weight, a short-term goal could be to walk 10,000 steps five times a week for a month.

Track Progress and Celebrate Milestones

Keep a journal or use a fitness app like My Fitness Pal to track your progress. Recording your activities and results can provide valuable insights and keep you motivated. For some people ‘Game-ifying’ fitness is a great way to keep engaged.

Fitness tracker

Overcome Common Obstacles

Life can get busy, and the weather can be unpredictable, especially in Scotland. Always have a backup plan ready to go. If it’s raining, consider doing a home workout or visiting your local gym. Don’t let a bit of bad weather cause you to miss your workout. Flexibility is key to maintaining consistency.

In summary, outdoor fitness offers numerous benefits for weight loss and overall health, particularly for adults over 40. The combination of physical activity and the great outdoors can transform your fitness routine and make it more enjoyable and as a result more sustainable. If you’re start out, begin with small steps, stay consistent, and embrace the journey towards a healthier, fitter you.

Sign up for a success session and get personalised advice on how to move forward with your fitness journey.

“Strength For Life”

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Davie McConnachie

Davie McConnachie is Scotland’s leading health and wellness coach, multi-award-winning gym owner, motivational speaker and the founder of DMC Fitness, a fitness education facility known as the premier choice for 1-2-1 personal training. He has inspired thousands of people to fall in love with fitness – his true purpose and mission in life.

Diving into the world of fitness and wellness has helped Davie to deal with his own trauma and inner demons. He, overcame many dark times using his own unique methods to continue his cycle of healing.