Who needs a gym membership when you have the outdoors? Outdoor exercise has a stronger effect on blood pressure and mood than indoor exercise. Stress is relieved within minutes of exposure to nature as measured by muscle tension, blood pressure, and brain activity.
Individuals looking to access the multiple benefits of exercise can break down their workouts into three categories: aerobic exercises, strength training exercises and flexibility training.
Here are 5 awesome outdoor activities in the UAE that we can get up to this winter:

1. Cycling at Al Qudra

Whether you want to cycle, roller blade, skate board or even run outdoors, make your way to Al Qudra (near Arabian Ranches) this winter, and enjoy the free of charge- 86km cycling track (with a shorter loop for beginners). They even have bike shops where you can rent out cycles for the day.
Cycling is mainly an aerobic activity, which means that your heart, blood vessels and lungs all get a workout. You will breathe deeper, perspire and experience an increased body temperature, which will improve your overall fitness level. Cycling (at 16.1-19.2 km/hr) for 60 minutes helps you burn about 419 calories!

2. Hiking & camping

Pack your backpacks, tents and gear and round up your adventure buddies for a fun hiking and camping trip in the UAE! There are so many great spots to go camping including Jebel Jais, Banan Beach and Hatta.
Hiking is a powerful cardio workout that can: lower your risk of heart disease, improve your blood pressure and blood sugar levels, boost bone density (as walking is a weight-bearing exercise), and strengthen your core.

3. Kayaking at Hatta Dam

Hatta Dam is definitely one of the most stunning places for kayaking in the UAE. The entire dam is surrounded by mountains, with pedal boats if you simply want to enjoy fancy lazing around the dam instead of kayaking.
Canoeing and kayaking are low impact activities that can improve your aerobic fitness, strength and flexibility. Specific health benefits include improved cardiovascular fitness, and as you paddle you improve muscle strength particularly for the back, arms, shoulders and chest. Kayaking for one hour (at moderate effort) burns around 489 calories.

4. Water Sports

Now is the perfect time to get your swimsuits on and head to the beach! Luckily, UAE has a huge variety of water sports to try, including paddle boarding, surfing and even fly boarding! If you’re not a huge fan of water sports, how about water rides? Dubai has some awesome water parks, with insane water slides that every thrill-seeker has to experience.
Water sports are very popular not only because of the adrenaline-rush, while getting tanned and toned, but also because of several health benefits. In most cases, water sports are done outdoors where you get to breathe in fresh air and be one with nature. It lifts your spirit up, sets you in a good mood and keeps you refreshingly energized!

5. Track nights

Yas Marina Circuit and Dubai ¬Autodrome both open their racetracks to the public for free. Amateur runners, cyclists and walkers of all ages and fitness levels can get mobile at the Autodrome’s 2.5km floodlit circuit, while rollerblades can also hit Yas Marina Circuit.As we all know, regular brisk walking can help maintain a healthy weight, prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure and type II diabetes. It also strengthens the bones and muscles.

Outdoor exercise, also known as “green exercise” combines two health-enhancing activities: moving your body and getting outdoors. If you’re looking to enhance your mood, save money and avoid the time and trouble of getting to the gym, follow my advice and look no further than the great outdoors.


Jana Hazim
Jana Hazim
Licensed Clinical Dietician, B.Sc., M.Sc. in Nutrition, AUB- Lebanon