12 Outdoor Workouts Perfect for Social Distancing

woman running up stairs outside


Cheapism is editorially independent. We may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site.
woman running up stairs outside

Far Out Fitness

COVID-19 is still spreading, so social distancing is still important. But what does that mean for a workout? "The current recommendation from the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] is not to wear a mask while exercising. They may reduce the ability to breathe comfortably, and if they become wet while sweating, it creates more of a hazard," fitness instructor Elizabeth Radinovic says. "The important thing to remember when working out is maintaining appropriate distance to avoid contact with respiratory droplets." One thing that helps maintain social distance — especially in good weather — is to take workouts outdoors. It avoids closed spaces where those droplets can linger, and burns more calories due to the terrain and elements. Experts say people who exercise outside have less tension, depression, and fatigue, and are more likely to exercise frequently and for longer periods. This list of outdoor workouts will get you feeling and looking your best despite coronavirus.

Related: 18 Fitness Challenges to Keep Pace (and Your Distance) During the Pandemic



One of the most popular outdoor workouts is running, and there's no reason to not keep running now the same as always, including without a face covering — so long as you can stay away from other people at all times. (Some think heavy breathing demands up to 12 feet of distance from other people, up from 6 for people without masks who aren't exercising.) If you might run into another human, at least bring a mask, and consider trying a Buff, a stretchy fabric tube easy to pull up and down, even if it slows your pace a bit. If there are kids with you, Radinovic suggests going to a track, where they "can race with you, set a timer for you, and give a countdown."

Related: 20 Spectacular Trails That Used to Be Railroads

Lift Your Mood

Power Walking

We aren't talking about a nice window-shopping stroll — pump up the speed and walk for at least 30 minutes. Studies have found that walking at 4.5 miles per hour burns roughly the same number of calories as jogging at the same speed. Additionally, walking is easier on the joints and less likely to cause injuries compared with running. And you can walk just about anywhere for free. Try your own neighborhood, a nearby park, or again around the track at a local school.

Related: Masks and Accessories to Make Covering Your Face More Comfortable


Stair Climbing

All you need are some bleachers. Try a local track, ballpark, or high school football field. Some walking trails have steps, too. You can either sprint to the top and walk back down, or pace yourself and walk in both directions. Either way, you're burning calories and working your lower half.

Round of Golf


Golfing is good exercise if you walk the course instead of taking a cart: Walking 18 holes burns 800 to 900 calories, according to Harvard Health Publishing. It's a relatively low contact sport that's easy to play while distanced. "Golfing has been popular right now, as it's possible to spread out on a course and still have fun in a small group," Radinovic says. 

Related: 24 Great Golf Courses to Play for Less Than $50



Many parks have open (and often free) tennis courts, so grab a racket and, for doubles matches, a partner — so long as the partner is from your own household or within your coronavirus "bubble." The distance across a court makes tennis, like golf, low-risk, and it was one of the first sports to be allowed after coronavirus lockdowns. But tennis may be more fun: It's a whole body exercise that burns plenty of calories, using leg, arm, and core muscles every time you hit the ball.

Related: Don't Let These 12 Sports Injuries Ruin Your Summer

26. Iowa
Jacqueline Nix/istockphoto


Biking is an excellent way to burn calories and work your lower half, and biking outside is much more engaging than a stationary bike at the gym — and a much better way to properly social distance. Mix up your rides to get the most out of them. Look for uphill climbs and go fast on straightaways to increase the calorie burn, with the same consideration about masking as runners.

Related: The Best Bike Trails in All 50 States

Swimming Laps
Natalia Sterleva/istockphoto


If you have access to a pool, lake, or ocean, swimming is one of the best workouts you can do. Swimming is low impact but still gets the heart pumping, and it works every muscle in the body. It also helps ease tension by stretching out tight muscles. "Swimming is considered a safe mode of exercise while taking the proper precautions. Chlorine kills harmful bacteria and viruses, including COVID-19," Radinovic says. "Social distancing should definitely be practiced in pools, because the respiratory droplets can still travel person to person above water. USA Swimming recommends only having one to two swimmers per lane, and having them start from opposite ends of the pool." Be cautious of pool seating and locker rooms, where precautions can be trickier. Wear a mask and keep your distance.

Note: According to the CDC, "Evidence suggests that COVID-19 cannot be spread to humans through most recreational water. Additionally, proper operation of these aquatic venues and disinfection of the water (with chlorine or bromine) should inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19."

Related: Cool Off Across America: Where to Swim in All 50 States

Jumping Rope

Jumping Rope

Jumping rope is an easy way to get the heart pumping and the calories burning. It's also a great leg workout. All you need is a rope, and it doesn't even have to be an official jump rope. According to WebMD, just 15 to 20 minutes of jumping rope can burn off that candy bar you ate at lunch. And you can do it in your own driveway without anyone around. 

Related: 30 Classic Backyard Games Due for a Comeback This Summer

Hula Hoop

Hula Hoop

Much like jump rope, this one may bring to mind the elementary school playground, but there's a reason jump ropes and hula hoops are so popular among children — they're fun and they get you moving. A 99-cent hula hoop is a good way to get in some quick cardio, build endurance, and blast away belly fat, while easily social distancing.

Related: Frisbee and Other Brand Names We Use for Everyday Products

Roller Blading

Roller Blading

Especially good for the quad muscles, roller blading can burn almost as many calories as jogging in the same amount of time. While new roller blades aren't cheap, if you already own them this is an outdoor workout to consider because it's very easy to steer clear of other people. It's fun and effective on a nice day. 

Related: 14 Workouts You Can Do With Your Pet and Other Animals

group fitness outside wearing masks
Alina Rosanova/istockphoto

Group Fitness Classes

The idea might sound impossible right now, but doesn't have to be. "Many trainers and mom groups have been meeting in parks, parking lots and yards to do group fitness while practicing social distance. An instructor, some, music and minimal equipment — hand weights and a mat — is enough for a successful outdoor fitness class," Radinovic says. "It's a fun way to keep the social aspect group fitness provides while following guidelines to prevent spread of the virus." Outdoor settings with proper distancing make for a low-risk environment. No equipment should be shared, and partner exercises should be eliminated.

outdoor circuit exercise

Outdoor Circuit

Who says you need the gym to get in a good circuit workout? Combining several of the ideas above, create your own circuit workout outside. An example: Power walk around the block, come back and jump rope or hula hoop for 10 minutes, power walk again, come back and do a quick series of push-ups and sit-ups. Or, bike over to the nearest set of steps, stair climb for 10 minutes, power walk around the track, do another 10 minutes of stair climbing, and bike home. It's more fun than the gym on a nice day.