With summer here, it’s time to get outside and get our bodies moving. Spending time in nature can actually help relieve stress and anxiety, improve your mood, and boost your overall wellbeing . Exercising also offers these benefits and many more. Combine the two together and you’re setting yourself up for success. Here are four outdoor activities to try this summer that will benefit your mind, body, and heart.
1. Tai chi
Tai chi, also known as “meditation in motion,” is a gentle form of exercise that combines movement and stretching with mindfulness. Tai chi is safe and beneficial for people of all ages. In fact, it can actually improve balance, flexibility, and strength, and might reduce the risk of falls in older people.
According to Harvard Women’s Health Watch , “Proprioception — the ability to sense the position of one's body in space — declines with age. Tai chi helps train this sense… and also improves muscle strength and flexibility, which makes it easier to recover from a stumble.”
Other benefits of tai chi include:
- It can be easily adapted for anyone
- It’s easy on muscles and joints
- It helps alleviate stress and anxiety
- It may reduce pain and the symptoms of depression
- It can improve stiffness and pain symptoms for those with chronic pain 
Tai chi is regularly done outside in neighborhood parks, botanic gardens, or any other calming, outdoor location. Look for tai chi classes at local martial arts studios, recreation centers, gyms, senior centers, asian cultural heritage centers, and tai chi studios.
2. Water aerobics
Water aerobics, or “aquarobics,” is another gentler activity you should try this summer. Water aerobics is a full-body workout where strengthening and cardio meet water resistance. It offers all of the benefits of a regular exercise class in a low-impact setting, working out your muscles without stressing your joints.
Because it’s easy on joints, water aerobics classes are great for people with arthritis, joint problems, and circulation issues, as well as those who are overweight. And you don't have to worry about falling and hurting yourself!
Other benefits of water aerobics include:
- It’s great for people of all ages and fitness levels
- It helps increase flexibility, muscle strength, and endurance
- It’s a dynamic workout that engages your whole body
- It gets your heart and lungs pumping, supporting cardiovascular health
Water aerobics classes are more than just a great workout, they’re also fun! They come in a variety of formats, including: Zumba, kickboxing, tai chi, step, and more. Check out your neighborhood’s community centers, pools, and gyms to find a water aerobics class to try this summer
3. Outdoor yoga
Yoga shouldn’t be confined to yoga studios. This summer, try taking a yoga class in the park or even following a sequence in your own backyard. Doing yoga outside combines the restorative powers of yoga with those of nature. It’s a great way to incorporate movement into your day and give your body the exercise it needs, all while enjoying beautiful summer weather.
It’s an especially good idea to do yoga because we lose much of our muscle mass and range of motion as we age. But with the stretches and movements of yoga, you can help keep your joints and muscles loose. Some other benefits of yoga are that it:
- Improves flexibility
- Improves breathing and increases energy and vitalit
- Promotes mindfulness
- Helps reduce stress
- Helps strengthen and tone muscles
And because yoga increases balance and body awareness, it can actually help reduce the risk of falls, which is very important for older individuals (much like tai chi).
Look for an outdoor yoga class online in meetup groups and Facebook events; new yoga teachers will frequently offer donations-based classes at local parks. Community and fitness centers also offer outdoor yoga classes, and some yoga studios even host off-site yoga classes outdoors too.
4. 5K or fun run
Participating in a fun run is a great way to spend a beautiful summer day and support a charity or cause, all while getting some exercise and doing something positive for yourself. Whether you take things slow, power walk, or run the entire race, you’ll benefit from doing this heart-healthy activity.
Getting a fun run on the calendar can also be a great way to motivate you. And your body will thank you for spending time walking outside in the weeks leading up to the big “race.” Other benefits of walking/running include:
- It strengthens your heart and lungs and tones muscles
- It can help improve your quality of sleep
- It enhances your mood
Check out our guide on participating in a fun run. Then check the bulletin boards at your community center, flyers around town, and websites to find a fun run to do this summer.
Looking for more ways to get outside and improve your heart health? Check out our list of 5 Heart-Healthy Hobbies.