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Natural Awakenings Milwaukee Magazine

Embrace the Outdoors in Milwaukee: Summer Fitness, Activities and Workouts

Jul 01, 2024 12:00AM ● By Jordan Peschek, RN-BSN

photo by Jordan Peschek

Summer is the perfect season to embrace outdoor activities for benefits beyond physical fitness. It is well known that outdoor workouts boost mental health, increase feelings of positivity and rejuvenation and improve stress levels. With plenty of free and inexpensive options and activities that can be enjoyed alone or with others, it can be easy to fit outdoor activity into one’s daily routine.

Walking and Running

Whether it’s a 10-minute break from work, a stroll after dinner or a fast-paced hour of movement, walking is an excellent starting point for those new to fitness. It requires nothing more than a pair of supportive shoes and a sense of adventure. Walking can help reduce joint pain, alleviate stress, improve sleep and boost the immune system. Many neighborhoods have walking paths and parks to enjoy, and exploring new locations can make walks even more enjoyable.

Running, a weight-bearing exercise, strengthens bones and reduces the risk of osteoporosis. It also improves cardiovascular health and lowers the resting heart rate over time. Long-distance running enhances endurance and sprinting aids in rapid weight loss. Joining a running club can provide inspiration, camaraderie and motivation, or enjoy solo runs to embrace some alone time.

Running and Walking Events Near Milwaukee

For those who enjoy friendly festivities, consider signing up for a run/walk race such as a 5K or half marathon in the area; most proceeds support a good cause. Local runs include:


Outdoor yoga and Pilates classes allow practitioners to breathe in fresh air and enjoy the benefits of natural surroundings.

Camp Serenity Yoga and Retreat on Little Muskego Lake offers classes for those new to yoga as well as those who wish to try something new. Sharon Roy, founder, offers paddleboard yoga classes on the lake as well as Iron Lotus™, a mind-body approach to yoga that also uses weights to build muscle strength and endurance. Riverwest Yogashala, celebrating 20 years in 2024, offers in-person and online classes. Online participants can set up in their own backyard to enjoy a class outdoors.

Water Sports

Natural water elements such as lakes, ponds and rivers can be soothing to the soul. Activities like swimming, canoeing, kayaking, water skiing and paddleboarding are great ways to enjoy these natural spaces. These sports also strengthen the upper body and have a calming effect, offering opportunities for solo and group outings. The MKE River Roundup on Wednesdays during the summer is a fun and vibrant way to grab a friend and enjoy a leisurely kayak on the Milwaukee River downtown while listening to live music from local bands.


Cycling is gentle on the joints, improves balance and provides a low-impact cardio workout. Biking is suitable for solo rides or family outings, with many cities offering bike-friendly lanes, public transportation access and rental bikes. The Oak Leaf Trail and the Hank Aaron State Trail are great biking trails in the Milwaukee area.

Incorporating outdoor workouts into one’s summer routine can enhance both physical and mental well-being, making the most of the season's natural beauty and longer days.

Hydration and Sun Protection

As temperatures rise, increased sweating can lead to dehydration. Drink plenty of water and consider electrolyte supplements for replenishment. Some sun exposure is important for healthy vitamin D levels, and protecting the skin is also crucial to prevent burning and increased cancer risk. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends applying waterproof, broad-spectrum sunscreen hours with an SPF of at least 30. UV-protective sunglasses can also prevent eye damage such as cataracts and macular degeneration.