Lace up those sneakers and do *this* if you're feeling a bit unmotivated.

According to the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about four in five Americans don't score the government-recommended level of activity each week (150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, plus two days of total-body strength training). The biggest reasons cited to explain why, per a survey by OnePoll on behalf of the fitness app company Freeletics? We feel:

  • Short on time
  • It might be inconvenient
  • Too tired
  • It's too expensive
  • We're not seeing results

All valid and understandable answers (hey, we've been there, felt that too!) but considering all of the proven mental health benefits of exercise as well as the serious physical health wins—including preventing several chronic diseases, keeping your muscles strong enough to complete daily activities and promoting a healthy heart and lungs—it's ideal for us all to get as close to that suggested activity level as possible. Yes, even if the scale doesn't budge or if your schedule is packed.

woman doing sit-ups outside
Credit: Getty Images / Yasser Chalid

One way to make any form of exercise feel easier? Take it outside, suggests a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Based on interviews, questionnaires and self-reported ratings using Physical Activity and Leisure Motivation Scale (PALMS) with 184 participants, scientists were able to determine that exercising outside is preferred over inside. It's also a way to boost your mood, ability to focus and post-exercise energy as well as make even challenging or frustrating workouts feel easier and more enjoyable.

As a result of this news, and the fact that many Americans cancelled their gym memberships during the pandemic, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) just created the Moving Together Outside campaign which calls upon local and state governments to expand access to shared green spaces for fitness opportunities led by certified fitness pros. So keep your eyes peeled for more al fresco group classes, run clubs and more in your neck of the woods, and for now, consider trying one of these 5 best exercises for your health, according to a Harvard doctor outdoors—nearly all are doable without a gym or special equipment.