We all know how important regular exercise is for maintaining great overall health. Dr. Seema Sarin of EHE Health recommends committing to a goal of at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week to enjoy the benefits of exercise; 75 minutes of vigorous activity also works.

And you don’t have to go to the gym to get what you need. Especially when the weather is good, creating your own “outdoor gym” can be more convenient and just as effective. After all, special equipment is not the key to a workout. Effort is. As Dr. Sarin says, “breathlessness, fatigue, and sweating — so that’s when you know you’re doing a good job with exercise.” Many people also find that they’re more inspired in their fitness routine when they take it outside. 

Here are some tips for a simple but effective outdoor gym routine.

1. Go for a run or brisk walk. Get your heart rate up. Use the “talk/sing test” as a rough gauge of whether your intensity is high enough. You should be moving vigorously enough so that you can still talk—but not sing. And you don’t need a treadmill’s incline, just city blocks or your neighborhood’s sidewalks.

2. Go for a hike. Local parks and hiking trails are everywhere. If you’re not into running but still want a great cardiovascular workout, hiking is a great option.

3. Turn the environment into equipment. Creative use of natural features in your surroundings works great for implementing outdoor gym resistance equipment. Grab a tree branch for pull-ups or use a bench for inclined push-ups. Just be sure to use good judgment and discretion when interacting with nature.

4. Make your own free weights. Use full water bottles, jugs, paint cans, buckets filled with water, or other safe items you find around the house. 

5. Get some resistance bands. If you invest in anything, resistance bands are an affordable and great way to add all sorts of different exercises to your outdoor routine. Use them to do bicep curls, upright rows, leg lifts, shoulder extensions, and dozens of other exercises in a park or your own backyard.

6. Involve the family. Outdoor exercise is a great opportunity to include your spouse or children in your workout compared to the gym. Playing physical games and going for group hikes are just two of the possibilities.   

Outdoor exercise can be the ideal solution when going to the gym isn’t. It’s essential to continue to get the benefits of working out—better cardiovascular health, improved sleep, decreased stress, a fortified immune system, boosted energy levels, and so much more. There are endless options; find the one that’s best for your needs and interests.