Do you love spring as much as I do? It's so energizing to wake up when the sun is shining, enjoy the outdoors without wearing a coat, and see the green grass and tiny flower buds flanking the streets. Every sunny day, I lament that I'm in the office instead of outdoors, which is why I get outside as much as possible after work and each weekend. 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!
Tennis: 470 calories* per hour
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!
5K Race: 460-680 calories* per hour
I will admit that walking and running aren't always fun on their own, but when the seasons change, you'll find me jogging a lot more. Spring is the season for 5K races, as well as marathons, 10Ks and other distances. Running my first 5K last year was a great experience—all the training leading up to it is so worth the experience! 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.
Gardening and Yard Work: 210-360 calories* per hour
Call me crazy, but I enjoy working in the yard. Luckily, my yard is a tiny one, otherwise I might not feel that way! I like to do all the work myself, without a motorized mower, hedger or blower. I use a push mower (363 calories per hour), which increases the intensity of mowing the lawn, a manual edger (this one is hard work!) to trim grass along the sidewalks and driveways, and a good old rake to gather leaves. I also grow fruits and vegetables in a small garden, which requires weeding, planting and pruning, all done by hand. Gardening 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!
Frisbee Golf: 220 calories* per hour
I will admit that I have not played Frisbee golf or "disc golf" since middle school gym class, but that is mostly due to my lack of coordination than to the fun factor of the game. Frisbee golf is fun for kids and adults—and 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.
Cycling: 270 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.
Wash Your Car: 250 calories per hour
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 automobile "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, am I right? Save money and do it yourself by hand washing, drying and waxing your car at home (or at the DIY carwash 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. (A little green tip: Washing a car in your driveway can be bad for the environment; monitor your water usage and choose waterless or eco-friendly detergents to limit your burden.)
Hit the Trails: 400 calories* per hour
Hiking is one of my favorite ways 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 I forget I'm huffing and puffing as I climb the hills!
*All calorie counts based on a 145-pound woman; people who weigh more will burn more calories.
How are you having fun and burning calories this spring?