Longer days, more sunshine, bigger smiles and that feeling in the air that can only mean one thing: spring is back. Warmer weather signals more outdoor time for frolicking, barbeques and adventures. It’s also the ideal time for outdoor workouts. No more waiting in line for equipment to free up in stuffy gyms. The great outdoors beckon!

Getting fit outdoors offers multiple benefits for body and mind. After a long day at work, going outside for some exercise helps relieve stress and tension, while also helping release natural endorphins which reduce pain and release positive feelings throughout the body. Evening workouts invite restorative slumber, ushering in a refreshed feeling in the morning and clearer mental functioning during the day.

Here are some fun ways to make the most of outdoor workouts:

Bench Workouts – Head to a local park or boardwalk and get the blood flowing with simple outdoor bench workouts. Aerobic step-ups, adjusted push ups and reverse tricep dips are just some of the effective exercises that build strength and balance. That park bench or step can be put to use as your personal outdoor fitness and post-workout stretching tool.

Jumping Jacks – Simple and effective, jumping jacks are a full body workout from head to toe. This quick and easy workout technique we learned in elementary school is a full cardio exercise which increases both heart rate and metabolism. The increased oxygen flow it produces offers an excellent way to keep your energy up during your workout, helping you last longer and push yourself further. Start with three sets of ten, and work your

Hiking – Underrated as a form of physical exercise, hiking is a great way to get your body and mind in shape this season. Beautiful scenery and the enjoyment of being surrounded by nature helps distract our minds from the tough inclines, uneven terrain and rise in heart rate we experience during a hike. Hiking helps tone muscles and improve lung capacity, while also promoting healthy and active living. It is the ideal way to workout, without feeling like you are actually working out.

Running and Jogging – With roughly 53.2 million Americans regularly running and jogging, this exercise mode is ideally suited to the outdoors. Whether you want to shed a few pounds or add some cardio to your workout, running and jogging helps increase oxygen and blood flow throughout the body. A good tip can be to stagger your speed when running, which can help increase weight-loss and make your workout feel more impressive and effective. New to running and jogging? Visit your local school track and begin by walking the straights and jogging the curves. Before you know it, you’ll be jogging around the entire track. Bleachers (usually found at high school and college tracks) are another option for careful climbing to build strength and agility.

Outdoor Fitness Parks – Want to improve your core strength, aerobic threshold, coordination and flexibility? Outdoor fitness parks have got you covered. Often located near playgrounds, these family-friendly parks are free and open to the public, with specially designed equipment geared to strength, resistance and endurance training. Consistent users are able to define, build and tone muscle while enjoying fresh air and a range of equipment to use. From chin-up and monkey bars to balance beams and motion machines, outdoor fitness parks are suited to workouts before dusk. Many outdoor fitness parks offer group classes on weekends.

As the fresh air and warm weather makes winter a thing of the past, explore areas suited to hiking, running, weight-bearing  or simply meditation. Outdoor workouts expose us to sunlight which shores up our supplies of essential vitamin D while views of nature help calm the mind. It’s easy to get motivated to push your fitness limits outdoors on a beautiful sunny morning.  Pairing an active lifestyle with a healthy diet can have great effects on both your body and your mind. No gym? No excuse, the outdoors are now your own personal training partner.