The Fitness Zone

The 2023 Top Fitness Trends Review: #6 Outdoor Activities

Nov 29, 2023 | by Steve Irwin

In this series of articles we are going to take a look at the top ten fitness trends for 2023 as created for the annual ACSM’s (American College of Sports Medicine) Health & Fitness Journal worldwide survey [1]

The survey list actually covers 20 fitness trends as collated as part of the survey, but we’re just going to focus on the Top 10 and dive specifically into some background information about the trend, how it can benefit you as a fitness consumer, as a fitness professional and also add some general guidance and / or recommendations.

So here we go… It is Number 6 on the List: Outdoor Activities

The Number 6 Fitness Trend for 2023: Outdoor Activities

In recent years, a remarkable fitness trend has emerged, redefining the way health and fitness professionals engage with their clients. The rise of outdoor activities, such as group walks, bike rides, and organised hiking, has become a game-changer for fitness enthusiasts. This trend extends beyond mere workouts, encompassing an array of outdoor experiences, from brief outings to day-long excursions, even multi-day adventures. It’s no longer just about exercise; it’s about embracing the natural world.

Intriguingly, this surge in outdoor activities found its roots in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The year 2021 witnessed outdoor activities soaring to the fourth spot on the popularity charts, and by 2022, it had climbed to an impressive third place. These activities have become a refreshing escape from the confines of indoor spaces, offering a safe and invigorating option for fitness seekers.

Participants gather in local parks, hiking areas, or bike trails, often under the guidance of dedicated leaders who orchestrate memorable adventures. This trend, which started to take shape in 2010 when outdoor activities languished at the 25th spot in annual surveys, has blossomed. In 2011, it inched up to 27th place, demonstrating the gradual but steady ascent of outdoor fitness experiences in the hearts and routines of health-conscious individuals. As nature beckons, fitness professionals continue to find innovative ways to connect with their clients through exhilarating outdoor escapades, making fitness more exciting and inspiring than ever before.

How Did Outdoor Activities Become Popular in the Fitness Industry?

The rise of outdoor activities in the fitness industry has been nothing short of a revolution. What was once a niche pursuit has now become a mainstream trend, captivating fitness enthusiasts around the globe. This transformation can be attributed to a confluence of factors that have reshaped the way people approach physical well-being.

One of the key drivers of this trend is a growing awareness of the numerous benefits that outdoor activities offer. Outdoor workouts provide a refreshing break from the monotony of indoor gym routines. They expose individuals to natural elements, promoting mental well-being and reducing stress. The connection with nature, the fresh air, and the changing terrain challenge the body in ways that indoor workouts cannot replicate.

Social media and technology have played an instrumental role in promoting outdoor fitness activities. Platforms like Instagram and YouTube have popularised outdoor workouts and adventures, with fitness influencers showcasing their experiences. This has not only inspired individuals to try new activities but also created a supportive community for those looking to get involved.

The COVID-19 pandemic also contributed to the surge in outdoor fitness. Lockdowns and gym closures forced people to adapt to new exercise routines. In response, many turned to outdoor activities as a safe and accessible alternative.

Moreover, the outdoor fitness industry has evolved to cater to a wider audience. There are now outdoor boot camps, group runs, hiking clubs, and yoga classes that cater to people of all fitness levels and backgrounds.

Embrace the Great Outdoors for Enhanced Mental Well-being and Fitness

In a world dominated by sedentary lifestyles and screen time, outdoor fitness activities offer a refreshing change, delivering a myriad of benefits to both physical and mental well-being. From hiking through lush forests to cycling along scenic trails or practising yoga in the park, these outdoor activities provide a holistic approach to fitness that can significantly improve cardiovascular health and overall wellness.

  • One of the most remarkable advantages of outdoor fitness is its impact on mental well-being. Nature’s beauty, fresh air, and a sense of freedom can reduce stress and anxiety levels, boost mood, and enhance mental clarity. Engaging with the natural world has been shown to lower cortisol levels, the stress hormone, and promote the release of endorphins, the body’s natural mood enhancers.
  • Furthermore, outdoor fitness offers a diverse range of activities, ensuring that exercise never becomes monotonous. This variety not only keeps workouts interesting and enjoyable but also challenges different muscle groups. Whether it’s a heart-pumping run, a peaceful yoga session, or an exhilarating rock-climbing adventure, the options are endless, allowing individuals to tailor their routines to their preferences and needs.
  • In terms of physical health, outdoor fitness excels in improving cardiovascular fitness. Activities like running, cycling, and swimming engage the heart and lungs, promoting efficient blood circulation and strengthening the cardiovascular system. Consistent engagement in these activities can lead to a healthier heart, reduced risk of heart disease, and increased endurance.
10 Recommendations for Outdoor Fitness Activities

Here’s a list of the 10 outdoor fitness activities suitable for all fitness levels:

  1. Walking: A low-impact activity that anyone can do, from beginners to advanced fitness enthusiasts. You can vary the pace and distance to suit your fitness level.
  1. Hiking: Explore nature while getting a great workout. Start with easy trails and gradually progress to more challenging ones.
  1. Cycling: Riding a bike is an excellent way to improve cardiovascular fitness. You can choose flat paths or more hilly routes to match your skill level.
  1. Yoga in the Park: Yoga is adaptable for all fitness levels. Practising in a park adds the benefit of fresh air and natural surroundings.
  1. Outdoor Callisthenics: Perform bodyweight exercises like push-ups, squats, and planks in a park or playground. You can adjust the intensity as needed.
  1. Swimming: If you have access to a safe natural body of water or a local swimming pool, swimming is a full-body workout suitable for all levels.
  1. Kayaking or Canoeing: Paddling is an excellent upper-body and core workout. Start on calm waters and progress to more challenging conditions as you gain confidence.
  1. Tai Chi: A low-impact martial art that focuses on balance and flexibility. It’s perfect for beginners and older individuals.
  1. Outdoor Boot Camp: Join a group fitness class in a park or on a beach. Instructors can modify exercises for different fitness levels.
  1. Rock Climbing: An adventurous way to build strength and improve problem-solving skills. Start with indoor climbing or easy outdoor routes before tackling more advanced climbs.

Remember to consult a healthcare professional before starting a new fitness routine, especially if you have any underlying health concerns.

Total Body Bootcamp for Beginners

Duration: 50 minutes

Intensity: 5 out of 10

Equipment needed:

  • Stairs
  • Kettlebells (choose a weight suitable for your fitness level)
  • TRX straps
  • Set of dumbbells (choose a weight suitable for your fitness level)
  • Water bottle
  • Workout mat (optional)
Warm-Up (6 minutes)
– Jog in place or around the grassed area (3 minutes)
– Jumping jacks (1 minute)
– Arm circles (1 minute)
– Leg swings (1 minute)

Workout (40 minutes)
3 x 10-minute A.M.R.A.P (as many rounds as possible) Circuits with rest periods 

Circuit 1: Stairway to Fitness (10-minute A.M.R.A.P)
– Stair Climb x 3 laps: Run or briskly walk up and down the stairs.
– Push-Ups x 10: Perform push-ups on the bottom step.
– Squat Jumps x 10: Explosive squats on the grass.
– Up down Plank x 10: Use the mat or grass.
– Step-Ups: Using the bottom step, alternate step-ups, 10 on each leg.

Rest (3 minutes): Take a breather and hydrate.

Circuit 2: Strength (10 minute A.M.R.A.P)
– TRX Rows x 10: Use the TRX straps attached to a pole or tree.
– Bodyweight Lunges: Perform 10 lunges on each leg.
– Dumbbell Squats x 10: Hold dumbbells.
– Mountain Climbers: On the grass, perform 10 mountain climbers on each leg.

Rest (3 minutes): Catch your breath and have a sip of water.

Circuit 3: Kettlebells (10 minute A.M.R.A.P)
– Kettlebell Swings x 10: Swing the kettlebell with both hands.
– Kettlebell Halos x 10: Hold the kettlebell and move it around your head in a circular motion.
– KB Goblet Squats x 10: Hold the kettlebell close to your chest and squat.
– Kettlebell Russian Twists x 10: Sit on the grass and twist with the kettlebell.
– Kettlebell Lunges: Alternate 10 lunges on each leg with the kettlebell.

Rest (3 minutes): Rehydrate and recover.

Cool Down (4 minutes): 
– Perform static stretches for major muscle groups.
– Hydration.

Please Note: The information provided in this article are the opinions and professional experience of the author and not all activities are recommended for the beginner or participants with underlying health conditions. Before following any advice or starting any fitness, health and wellbeing journey please consult with an Allied Health Professional and / or General Practitioner.


  1. ACSM’s Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2023: Thompson, Walter R. Ph.D., FACS
  2. The Mental Health Benefits Of Exercising Outdoors
Steve Irwin

Steve Irwin

Steve has spent the last 19 years in the Australian Fitness Industry as a Group Fitness Instructor, 1-1 Coach, State Manager, Business Owner and is currently an Educator for the Australian Institute of Fitness. A lifelong fitness enthusiast he started his working life in the Military which guided him into the fitness industry where his passion for helping others on their health and fitness journey has been realised. Steve believes that for anyone thinking about getting fit or healthy they should “just get started” as “doing something is better than doing nothing”.

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