Summer offers endless opportunities to get fit — all while enjoying the great outdoors. Read on for our top picks.

Warm temps, bright sunlight and longer days are a virtual invitation from nature for you to get outdoors, get moving and have some fun. There are plenty of opportunities to work in low-impact exercise that’s easy on your knees and other joints. You’ll burn calories, improve your fitness and get healthy without even noticing it. Just don’t forget to drink lots of water, slather on the sunscreen and follow these other rules for exercising safely in the heat.

Go for a stroll.

You already know that walking is one of the best and easiest low-impact exercises out there — and there’s no better time to do it outdoors than in summer. Make it more fun by adding in a challenge — say, walk at least 25 to 30 miles a week. Or change up your terrain and take it to the beach. Walking at a pace of 3 miles per hour burns an estimated 250 calories in 60 minutes. Of course, if you’re stuck inside working during much of the summer months, you can still work it into your daily routine.

“To get more walking in, park in the farthest parking spot to your destination,” said Helga Van Herle, MD, MS, associate professor of clinical medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and a cardiologist at Keck Medicine of USC. “And instead of taking an elevator, try walking up the stairs.”

Call for an Appointment
(800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273)

Take a hike.

“Hiking” is basically a fancy word for a long walk in nature. It offers many of the same benefits as walking — low-impact aerobic exercise that’s easy for almost everyone to do. Hiking up a hill helps you burn up to 600 calories per hour. Learn about all the benefits hiking has to offer.

Dive right in.

There’s a reason swimming is one of the top recommended exercises for those in physical therapy: It’s a low-impact, full-body workout. The buoyancy of the water takes pressure off your joints, while the resistance works nearly all your muscles from head to toe. Depending on the stroke, you can burn close to 500 calories in 30 minutes.

Water play.

If you don’t want to or can’t swim, you can still get an awesome workout in the water without putting your face under water and getting your head wet. Try running and jumping in place for lower impact or around the edge of the pool to kick it up a notch to work your leg muscles. You can also hold on to the edge of the pool and do flutter kicks with your legs to work your core, in addition to your legs, or float on your back with the support of a noodle and push and pull your legs, or bicycle them to tone your abs.

See the world from two wheels.

If you’re already a fan of spinning, take the show on the road and cycle outdoors. It’s a low-impact cardio exercise that’s easy on your knees and also tones and strengthens your legs. Plus there’s nothing like the feel of the wind at your back as the scenery streams by you, not to mention it burns about 500 calories an hour.

Hit the links.

Grab your clubs and hit the course for a round of 18 holes. Even if you’re driving a cart between the holes, you can burn almost 250 calories an hour and 211 calories with an hour at the driving range.

If you are in the Los Angeles area and are looking for exceptional care from some of the top physicians in the world, be sure to schedule an appointment by calling (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or by visiting keckmedicine.org/request-an-appointment.

By Anne Fritz