As the temperatures rise, it’s time to pack away those skis and skates or take a leave of absence from your climate-controlled gym. Summer, with her longer days and balmy weather, is a great time to keep fit while enjoying the Great Outdoors. Plenty of opportunities abound to burn calories while leaving a minimal carbon footprint. None of these sports require a gas-powered motor or make a lot of noise. All of these sports are eco-friendly since they leave no emissions, no pollution and almost no environmental impact.
1. Biking. Why, it’s as easy as riding a bike! Expense: you can find free and cheap used bikes at thrift stores, rummage sales and Craigslist. Add a helmet for $20 and you’re good to go! Accessibility: at your fingertips–many folks take up biking to reduce their dependence on driving–add a basket to your handlebars and you can get your exercise time while running errands. Recreation trails or roads are near most people’s houses and biking can combine with mass transit as city buses have bike racks to help people navigate urban areas. Difficulty: so easy–even a toddler can ride a bike with training wheels–biking can be a family affair! Looking for a trail to ride? Click here!
2. Swimming. Expense: a swim pass and a suit will run $100. If you live near a lake or beach, you only have to pay for your suit. Accessibility: can be limited depending on where you live–but if you’re near a public pool, they often have hours specifically for adults to swim laps uninterrupted by splashing children. Difficulty: moderate. Swimming offers excellent exercise without any harm to your joints, it’s the ultimate low-impact, high-intensity workout. If you don’t know how to swim, however, many city pools and your local YMCA offer lessons starting at $30 on up.
3. Fishing. Expense: moderate–rod, reel, license, bait and sometimes a boat. Raid grandpa’s garage or attic for your fishing gear and your only cost will be that $20 license–offset if you catch yourself dinner! Accessibility: again, depending on where you live you might not have a pier to fish from, but if you do, there is no finer way to spend a lazy afternoon. Especially if you have kids. Difficulty: it’s true, even a lousy day of fishing is better than a great day at work. If you’re new to fishing, check out Take Me Fishing to get started!
4. Kayaking/Canoing. Expense: moderate to pricey. You can rent a kayak or canoe with all the essentials, buy equipment used, or go full-bore and drop a month’s salary on this hobby. Accessibility: this activity is water-dependent–but many areas have beautiful, unexplored areas only available to kayakers or canoeists. Difficulty: moderate–but this sport offers excellent upper body exercise! Check out Kayak Online to get started!
5. Basketball. Expense: cheap–a ball costs $20, you can find free courts almost anywhere. Accessibility: quite good in most areas. Difficulty: moderate to challenging. Whether you’re playing one-on-one, a friendly game of Around the World, or going full-throttle NBA-style, you can get your blood pumping and all your major muscle groups working.
6. Skating. Expense: cheap–used skates will run under $40. Accessibility: outstanding–unless you live on a gravel or dirt road, you can skate. Difficulty: moderate–and a fantastic cardiovascular exercise.
7. Tennis. Expense: cheap–a used racket and a sleeve of balls will cost under $50. Accessibility: great. Most high schools and public parks have tennis courts free for the public to use. Difficulty: moderate to challenging depending on your opponent. You’re guaranteed to work up a sweat and a thirst playing tennis.
8. Baseball. Expense: bat, ball, glove–you’re looking at $50 or less. Accessibility: fantastic. Whether playing in your back yard, in a public park or at a local schoolyard, you can find a grassy field for a pick-up game anywhere. If you’re looking for more “professional” competition, park & rec departments offer league play for $15 on up. Difficulty: moderate. But a game of catch with your little slugger in the back yard is worth learning how to throw and catch a ball.
9. Soccer. Expense: cheap–a ball is less than $20. Add cleats and shin guards and soccer might cost $60. Accessibility: fantastic. Like baseball, all you need is a flat, grassy field to play on. Drive anywhere in America and you’ll find kids and grown ups kicking balls around yards, empty lots and parks. Difficulty: easy. It’s kicking a ball–there’s a reason there are soccer leagues for pre-schoolers!
10. Walking/Hiking. Expense: free. Accessibility: superb. You can walk anywhere, anytime. Difficulty: easy. Even easier when you take a walk with a friend.
11. Frisbee/Frisbee Golf. Expense: cheap–you can get a decent disc for $10. Accessibility: good. Many public parks offer courses, all public green spaces offer room for a game of frisbee. Difficulty: easy to moderate. Some coordination is required, but it’s all in the wrist.