After exercising indoors all winter, the allure of spring has us itching to get outside. But if you've gotten used to your indoor workout - the climate is consistent, your equipment is always readily available -you might be unsure of where to start with your transition out of doors. Fear not! We've got you covered. These five fun activities will show you that you don’t need the treadmill or your weight bench for a great workout.
When you think of exercising outdoors, the ideas that pop into mind are likely walking, running, biking or perhaps hiking. But you don't need to limit your outside workouts to cardio alone. You can get just as an effective strength-training workout outside as well.
All you'll need for this workout is a park bench. You'll use your bodyweight as resistance or you can add dumbbells, weighted balls, kettlebells, etc. Exercises to try include: tricep dips, step-ups, two foot jumps, inclined push-ups (or declined push-ups!), Bulgarian lunges, squats (where you stand in front of the bench and squat until your butt just touches the seat and then repeat), seated leg raises, and one-arm side planks (leaning with one hand on the bench).
OK, walking may have been your first thought when it comes to exercising outside, but let's take it to the next level! Since you aren't on a treadmill, your surroundings can be used as a tool to keep you motivated and interested. We recently talked about High Impact Interval Training (HIIT) on this blog. Let's put those ideas into action during your neighborhood walk.
Start with a warm up of moderate walking for a few minutes. Then you'll alternate high impact walking and recovery walking in equal parts. Learn exactly how to do this here.
Whether you are walking, jogging, running, or biking, you can also use physical landmarks like blocks of streets or houses to count in order to build your intervals. Sprinting "to the next block" can be much easier than watching the time tick on your treadmill, so use the outside landscape to your advantage and challenge yourself. If you were able to jog to the corner store last week, see if you can make it all the way to the library this time.
What better way to take advantage of the spring weather, than to take your Sun Salutations into the actual sun!
Most yoga flow routines and meditations can easily be adapted for nature, in fact, you may find them better suited there. Embrace the sights and sounds of your environment and incorporate them into your practice. Wind for example, can be used to help deepen the breath (rather than being viewed as an annoyance). Tryout the grass or sand instead of a mat under your feet for an added challenge and greater balance practice.
Being outside can take your yoga practice up a notch, from finding inspiration in nature, to getting powerful boosts of Vitamin D from the sun. Once you've completed your practice, you can also seamlessly move into other outside exercises like a great walk!
Have something that you need to discuss with a colleague? Rather than doing so over a meal out, have a walking meeting instead. Not only will you be swapping the indoors for the outdoors, you'll also likely be swapping a high calorie meal, for extra calories burned instead!
If you think walking meetings will hurt productivity, it is actually quite the opposite. Spending time outside has been found to improve short-term memory, restore mental energy, relieve stress, improve concentration, and sharpen thinking - and what meeting wouldn't benefit from those boosts? A Stanford Study also found that walking improves creativity. Researchers found that a person's creative output increased by an average of 60 percent when walking!
And guess what? April 29th, 2015 is National Walk at Lunch Day! So you've got the perfect excuse to try the idea out. Read more about National Walk at Lunch Day at the last link below.
One of the most enjoyable ways to get exercise outside is to challenge yourself to an event or join a team. In the spring, summer and fall there seems to be a 5K, mud run, or other such event every weekend. Look one up in your area and mark the calendar. Training for an event is great motivation!
Not up for a race? How about a good game? Get together with friends (or make some new ones) by joining a sports team. Softball, rugby, soccer - the choices are practically endless. Especially if you are a social butterfly, team sports could be a great way to take your exercise outside - and out of the box!