Sunny days in the UK are precious and few, so don't waste them being cooped up inside. From al fresco exercise classes to family-friendly days out, there are countless ways (and excuses) to make the most of the great outdoors this summer...and even burn a few calories in the process! Check out our guide to the best outdoor activities to energise your summer.
A bootcamp class in your local park is a great way to take your exercise regime al fresco this summer. British Military Fitness bootcamps use techniques adapted from those used in the British Army, Navy and RAF, and burn an incredible average of 640 calories per session!
As well as getting you super-fit, the group nature of the bootcamp really helps to keep you motivated. 'British Military Fitness is all about getting fit together - you'll be made to feel part of the group, and in a matter of minutes you'll be drawing strength and having fun with your class mates," says British Military Fitness's Laura Kettle. With over 400 classes a week in 100 different locations around the UK, there's sure to be a class in a park near you.
Walking is a fantastic entry-level form of exercise, and a country walk makes a great family day out. The National Trust has information on hundreds of walking trails for all levels and abilities all over the country - each walking trail guide includes a map, wildlife spotting tips, local lores and legends and places of interest compiled by National Trust wardens.
Gardening can have many benefits besides the obvious aesthetic ones. According to a recent survey by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), gardening eases stress, improves psychological wellbeing, encourages sustained exercise and promotes physical health.
Gardening can seem daunting for those not naturally blessed with green fingers, but Eoin Redahan from the RHS reassures us that there's no gardening hurdle that can't be overcome. "If you suffer from hay fever, there are plants you can choose that won't affect you. If you only have a balcony, there are lots of plants you can grow in pots. And if you think plants die because you don't know what to do, there are lots of courses and clubs to join."
The RHS website is a great place to start your gardening journey, with tips on everything from what to grow and when to community projects near you.
There are few greater summer pleasures than a picnic, but an afternoon spent lounging on a rug sipping Pimm's can leave you feeling sluggish and bloated. So why not inject some activity into the day by playing a retro outdoor game?
Games like bat and ball, cricket and skipping are great ways to bring everyone together and burn off some picnic calories. John Lewis offer a great range of outdoor games equipment, from special edition London 2012 frisbees to a Jacques hardwood skittles set.
Running is the most popular form of outdoor exercise, and it's not hard to see why - it's free, you can do it almost anywhere and according to the NHS it has great health benefits, from reducing the risk of illnesses like heart disease to boosting your mood and keeping weight under control.
If you'd like to get started with running, consider joining a running club. "Running with a club makes the running more fun and also safer," says Michael White, secretary of the Association of Running Clubs. "Clubs are very friendly, welcome new members and cater for all abilities, and there is often a social aspect too'.
With some 1400 running clubs in the UK, there is sure to be a club near you. Check out www.runningclubs.org.uk to find your nearest.
It's easy to think of swimming as only something you do on holiday, but that doesn't have to be the case. It's a great form of all-round exercise, and its low-impact nature makes it ideal for exercise novices or those with injuries. And it's easy to do whereve r you happen to be.
There are some brilliant public lidos up and down the country - Visit England have compiled a list of their top 10. Or if you're feeling a little more adventurous (and are a strong swimmer), why not try a spot of wild swimming? The Outdoor Swimming Society is passionate about encouraging more of us to take the plunge, and their website is a great place to find out more information on how and where you can swim safely.
Tree top adventures
If you're looking for something a little different, then how does a spot of tree-swinging sound? Go Ape offer you the chance to do just that, with 28 forest adventure sites across the UK. "Visitors can experience a liberating sense of freedom as they swing on Tarzan swings above the leafy ground, cross wooden walkways and fly through the forest on zip wires," says Go Ape co-founder Tris Mayhew. At £30 a session (for adults), it's not an everyday activity, but as adrenalin-packed days out go, it's hard to beat!
As the saying goes, once you learn how to ride a bike you never forget, so there's no excuse not to dust off your helmet and get back in the saddle this summer.
A great activity for all ages and abilities, it's even more fun with a scenic cycle route. Cycle paths with a view (and minimal traffic) can be found all over the country. Visit England have a list of the UK's top 10 scenic cycle routes, and the National Trust encourages visitors to explore their properties on two wheels.
If all this activity gets you in the mood for a long-term healthy change for the better, then signing up for My Special K could be a great next step. With a personalised healthy eating plan, specially-tailored exercise advice and more, it could provide all the support you need for an energy-filled, active summer.