Summer weight loss - get fit outdoors

Caroline Cassidy

Why not make the most of warmer weather and lighter evenings and exercise outdoors. Fresh air, sunshine and a change of scenery will improve your mood - and if nothing else, it sure smells better than a sweaty gym!

Woman walking outdoors
Woman walking outdoors

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If you're new to exercise, start slowly and walk for 30-minutes each day. After three days, try upping the pace for five minutes at a time, until you get out of breath, then go back to walking at normal speed. Over the course of a week or so, increase the amount of time you spend speed walking and reduce the recovery intervals.

A pedometer can be a fun way to keep track of how many steps you have taken in a day. The recommended number is 10,000 – which gives you something to aim for! Stephen Fry, who recently lost weight by eating healthily and walking, revealed that he listens to audio books while he pounds the pavement. Choose a real page turner and you may find you pick up the pace without even noticing!

Once you're feeling fitter it's important to keep up with your new routine. Consider joining a rambling group (checking out the Ramblers Association for a group near you); join a beginner's jogging club or arrange to go walking or jogging with friends. Meeting up with others may be the extra incentive you need to keep at it.

If walking isn't for you, what about going for a dip in the local lido - or if you're feeling brave, try wild swimming in a river, lake or the sea? When the sun is shining, swimming offers fitness without the sweat and can burn as many as 500 calories per hour. If you find it dull, invest in a waterproof MP3 player and listen to your favourite tunes as you do breast stroke. Speedo has come up with the Aquabeat, £39.99, a slick waterproof MP3 player that holds 250 songs. Plus it floats - so no endless searching at the bottom of the pool if you lose it.

For something a bit different, you could always try kayaking. It's harder than it looks and will seriously tone your upper body, as well as giving you a cardio workout. Of course, you can make it as serene (or not) as you like. Even going at a moderate pace will burn over 350 calories an hour.

Horse riding
It may feel like the horse is doing the hard work, but riding is actually good exercise. Break into a trot and you'll be toning your thigh muscles, strengthening your core and stomach and burning up to 450 calories – all while enjoying the great outdoors. Look for lessons in your local area or check out horse riding schools that do day-long excursions on your next holiday. Just be prepared to walk like John Wayne for a few days after!

Fun ways to get fit
Zumba classes, tango lessons, army training boot camps, tennis, netball groups – there are plenty of things going on in summer. Check your leisure centre and what's on listings in your local paper for fun ways to get fit outdoors this summer.