Summer is here and and as the weather becomes warmer with blue skies and brighter sunshine, people love to take their workouts outside.  But do we burn more calories outdoors?  

The answer to that question is a resounding Yes!

In this article, we shall dive into what and how is the best way to burn calories outdoors.

Environment. The Rocky Balboa method!

When you train in a gym compared to the outdoors there are significant differences that can affect your body and its progress – think Rocky IV!

Just a quick refresher; the antagonist Ivan Drago trained in a controlled setting a gym whereas Rocky trained in the harsh outdoor environment of winter Siberia.

Rocky’s exercises to strengthen and build cardiovascular endurance were bodyweight exercises and simplistic levers and pulleys. In the health club the temperature is controlled, you are sheltered from weather, the terrain is flat and predictable, the flooring has cushioning and there is proper lighting.

You can certainly achieve results from the controlled environment such as the gym, but can you maximize caloric expenditure? No!

When training outside you have to account for the multitude of variables, wind resistance, unstable surfaces, the sun and weather. Wind Resistance is key factor that attributes to burning more calories when performing cardiovascular exercises such as running and cycling.

Running into the wind makes the body work harder to maintain the same speed, stabilize and balance so you do not fall.  All three require extra work compared to running on a treadmill.  More work equals the burning of more calories.

Unstable and irregular is good for a workout

Unstable surfaces are fantastic for cardiovascular and strength exercises. By utilizing an unstable surface you can significantly increase the difficulty of a workout.  For example, when completing push-ups outside, complete a set of 10-15 with your body facing uphill and then 10-15 repetitions with your body facing downhill.

By changing your position facing downhill, you are adding resistance to your exercise. Try completing walking lunges uphill and then downhill, your body will thank you!

The power of the sun!

The Sun is another variable that allows you to burn more calories outdoors.  We are exercising outside it’s a clear summer day. It’s gorgeous and the sun is shining bright.  While you are completing your workout, you notice you are sweating profusely.  The workout has been consistent the last couple days.

What has changed?  The sun on a clear day can raise your core temperature, obviously increase the climate temperature and create added resistance to your cardiovascular and strength training workout.

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Exercising outdoors will burn more calories compared to indoors.

Wind resistance, unstable surfaces, the type of surface, and the sun all play a role in the potential difficulty.  Since we are approaching summer, be sure to hydrate while training outside.  Drinking plenty of water will increase performance, regulate body temperature and aide in burning more calories in the process.

Sample workout to perform outdoors: Pick a location that has a hill

Warm up: 5 minutes

20 jumping jacks

5 hill runs/jogs

20 Mountain Climbers

10 Body Squats


Circuit 1: 3 rounds

Pushups (body facing downhill): 10

Plank 1 arm row (body facing downhill): 10 on each side

Walking lunges: 10 uphill and 10 downhill

Squat Thrusters (flat surface): 10

Running in Place: 15 seconds

Circuit 2: 2-3 rounds

Hill Sprints: 4

Body squats: 15

Hollow holds: 30s

Sit ups: 10

Check out my Facebook and Instagram page for sample exercises

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Pollyanna Hale Health and Lifestyle coaches
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