How many of us fork out every month for a gym membership we never use? Recent estimates suggest that an incredible amount of us keep up payments on memberships we hardly ever use. People cite busy lifestyles, overwhelming workloads and lack of motivation among other reasons for this lapse of a healthy lifestyle – but could gyms themselves be part of the problem? With their air conditioning, queues for equipment and competitive environments, many people just don’t enjoy heading to the gym to work out. So what’s the alternative? Well, with summer well and truly in full swing there’s never been a better way to explore nature’s own gym – the great outdoors. Here’s our guide to getting fit outside this summer:

Go for a run

We all know that running has plenty of fans – all you need to do is look at your Facebook feed to see all the latest updates from your friend’s marathon and your relative’s sponsored run. But for those of us who aren’t quite so fit and healthy, running can seem intimidating and tough. However, with the mild weather and firm ground, summer is a great time to get started. Ease yourself into running by beginning with a routine that combines a short run with a short walk, then repeat it – lenghtening the amount of time you spend running as you get more comfortable. Getting the right kit is important to making a good start too – check out sports specialists like Sports Direct to invest in some decent running shoes. If you struggle to motivate yourself to run, why not join a club? Most towns and cities have several running clubs where you can meet up with other people and inspire yourselves to keep going as well as pick up tips and meet new friends.

Get hiking

Running a bit too high impact for your liking? You can still build up great core strength and give yourself a workout by going on a long hike. To really get your blood pumping, choose a walk that incorporates at least one steep incline, and steer away from easy walks along flat trails. The Lake District is a great place to conquer some impressive hills, as are the more mountainous regions of Scotland and Wales. It’s important to know your limits, so start with an easier trek and build up from that – local tourist information offices are a great source of information on the difficulty levels of walks in the area. As with running, it’s important to get a good pair of appropriate shoes, and ake sure you take plenty of food and water if planning a long hike. Want to really challenge yourself? Why not plan a long hike over several days? You’ll really get warmed up enough to tackle some big hills, and the extra challenge of carrying all your kit will help you work those upper body muscles too.

Try wild swimming

Love to swim but hate the crowded atmosphere and chloreinated water of your local pool? Why not join the popular trend of wild swimming? A blanket term used to describe swimming in lakes, rivers and from beaches around the country, wild swimming offers the perfect combination of getting back to nature and getting fit. Do an online search for wild swimming locations in your area and you may be surprised – everything from disused quarries to waterfalls has been co-opted by lovers of this fashionable past time. If you’re afraid of cold water you can wear a wetsuit for added comfort, but nothing beats the thrilling sensation of jumping straight in to a cool body of water on a hot day. To make sure you stay safe, do plenty of research on things like tide times before you go, and always make sure you check out what’s under the water before attempting any big dives. Want a bigger challenge? Many wild swimming clubs exist around the country and offer the opportunity to swim long lengths across lakes or around coasts with the added safety of doing so as part of an experienced group.

Go to the extreme

Want a workout more aking to some intense cardio down the gym while still enjoying the great outdoors? Many extreme sports offer a more extreme burst of exercise. If you live near the sea, coasteering is a great activity that combines climbing, swimming and scrambling up rocks. All that physical activty guarantees a real workout, and you’ll get to see the coastline from a whole new angle too. Kayaking is also a fun activity that burns plenty of calories – check out stores like NS Watersports for all the best deals on equipment. Don’t live close to the sea? There are still plenty more activities you can enjoy. Climbing is great for building your upper body muscles, while mountain biking on tough terrain is ideal for core strength. Away from the UK, sports like skiing and snowboarding are fantastic exercise, and also offer the opportunity for a wonderful holiday taking in beautiful landscapes and more.