Get outside and get fit this summer

Everyone wants the perfect bikini bod but sometimes the thought of slaving away in the gym surrounded by rippling abs and toned arms can be a bit off putting - especially when you're facing down the mirrored wall as you sweat it out on the treadmill.

So now is the time to get out of the gym, leave the monotony of running on the same spot behind, and get fit in the great outdoors.

With the help of personal trainer Lucy Brown we've put together five great ways to make the most of the (hopefully) dry summer months and get yourself looking and feeling fitter than ever before.

Set yourself a goal

Set yourself a goal

Having a target is a good way to keep motivated. We aren't necessarily suggesting you sign up for the Marathon des Sables (a 6-day, 156-mile ultramarathon in the Sahara) straight away but having some sort of target is the perfect way to stay motivated.

There are lots of great charity runs you could sign up for over the summer months, many of them as little as 5km and a lot of them you can walk or run.

Encourage the girls from the office to sign-up to a race and arrange some after work training sessions. After the first couple of weeks, once you've started to feel fitter, you'll really start enjoying yourself.

Lucy says: "Don't talk yourself out of your exercises, they may not be easy but they'll be worth it."

Join a class or find yourself a gym buddy

gym buddy

There are lots of outdoor training classes all over the UK and the summer months are the perfect time to get involved.

Groups like British Military Fitness, run by former and serving members of the armed forces, run hundreds of outdoor training sessions in 120 parks in the UK every week.

Scary as it sounds, the classes are split from beginner level to hardcore fitness fans, so don't worry if you aren't in peak physical condition just yet.

Joining a class may sound intimidating, but it's a brilliant way of finding likeminded people to spur you on.

If you feel a little bit nervous about joining a class by yourself then ask a friend to go along with you for the first time.

Lucy says: "Train with friends as this will stop embarrassment in a public place and make you feel like you're in it together."

Cycle to work

Cycle to work

Check if the company you work for is part of the cycle to work scheme, which is part of the government's initiative to encourage more people to leave the car behind.

Basically, it allows you to buy a bike and all the safety equipment you'll need and pay it off monthly through your salary, tax free.

If you are within cycling distance of the office - even if it involves a train journey in between - pedalling to work is a great way to get some extra exercise and fresh air into your day.

Lucy says: "Starting your day with some exercise will leave you feeling energised and alert."

Plan weekend activities that are actually active

weekend activities

When the weekend rolls around you may just want to sit back and chill out, but after a long week of sitting at a desk all day this is a great opportunity to get in some enjoyable exercise.

According to the Department of Health, inactivity is a silent killer. Evidence shows leading a sedentary lifestyle - sitting or lying down for long periods of time - can have a devastating impact on your health.

Counteract this by arranging fun, energetic activities for you and your loved ones to do at the weekend.

Whether it's as adventurous as trying out surfing or white water rafting, or as simple as a speedy hike through some local forestry followed by a game of Frisbee in the park, getting off the sofa will make you feel heaps better.

Lucy says: "Drink plenty of water and find a place near the shade if you're not accustomed to exercise and heat!"

Make use of your local park

local park

Why sign up for an expensive gym membership when you can have your own personal workout space for free? There are thousands of parks, fields, nature reserves etc all around the UK, seize the opportunity to use them to improve your health while the sun is shining.

You can use sites like WalkJogRun to find running routes for any distance or go directly to your local council's website for a list of parks and playing fields in your area.

You can use benches along the way to do mini-circuits to break up the journey, some parks even have stop off points for runners to do exercises like pull-ups or tricep dips.

Lucy says: "Incorporate lots of body weight movements to make it as cheap and effective as possible. Squats, lunges, press ups, burpees, crunches, planks etc, in as many variations and patterns as possible."

Personal trainer Lucy's top 10 outdoor exercises:

Pick three of these to do each time you work out, set yourself a mini-circuit with as many sets and repetitions as you feel comfortable with. If you're unsure on how to do any of the moves, have a look on Google.

  1. Tricep dips: Sit on the edge of a bench with your hands either side of your hips with elbows pointing behind you, stretch your legs out in front of you and lower your bottom a couple of inches from the floor
  2. Press-ups: Put your hands on the bench, walk your legs out and press-up
  3. Step-ups: Use the bench to do sets of step-ups
  4. Reverse elevated lunges: Put one leg on a bench behind you, hop yourself out on the front leg and lunge
  5. Squats: Squat until your bottom touches the bench (don't sit down! Keep squatting)
  6. Crunches: Sit with your bottom forward on the bench, tilt yourself back, raise your legs in front of you, now pull your knees towards your chest
  7. Hanging leg raises: If you find some monkey bars, hold onto the bar and use your core muscles to pull your legs out straight in front of you
  8. Pull-ups: This may take some doing but if there are monkey bars on your route try a pull-up up every time, you'll get there eventually
  9. L sits: Again, this will take some serious practice - sit on the floor with your hands flat on the floor at your sides and push up. The aim is to be able to lift your weight with your legs in front of you
  10. Plank: Rest on your elbows and toes and try to keep your bottom low so you are pretty much in a straight line; hold it for as long as you can

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