Summer is the perfect time of year to reassess your fitness goals and look at your exercise routines to see if they still meet your needs. Have you been doing the same workout since the fall, have you hit a plateau and you really are not seeing the results you would like anymore? If the answer is yes, it is time to reinvigorate, re-evaluate, redo statistics and give your workouts a brand new jump start. Change can be a good thing so think outside the box. Actually just think outside. The newest studies are showing that you tend to exercise longer and harder when you are outdoors. Plus there is no need for an expensive gym membership! Look for local parks and recreation areas, biking or hiking trails and of course your own backyard or neighborhood. It is also good idea to invest in a pedometer so you can keep track of your distance. Experts recommend 10,000 steps per day, which is about 5 miles!
Remember it is important to keep safety in mind when exercising outside. If possible exercise with a buddy, be aware of your surroundings, stay in well light and populated areas and keep your music low enough that you can hear what is going on around you. Be sure to warm up for 8 to 10 minutes at the beginning, then stretch and cool down at the end of your routine. Always use sunscreen and stay hydrated!
Exercising outdoors gives you the freedom and ability to work out anywhere you want, at anytime you want. I love being outside and here are a couple of fun ways to up the intensity of a walk in the park.
- Incorporate High Intensity Interval Training by using a tree, a house or a telephone pole for your intervals. Move as fast as you can to that point then slow down for a brief time then pick another land mark for your next interval!
- Find a step, a bench or a curb and do 10 of each of the following; step ups, scissor jumps and lateral jumps. Aim for 3 to 5 sets.
- Walk, jog or run for 5 minutes then stop and do 1 minute of jumping jacks and crunches.
- Take an exercise band with you so that during your walk you can do 3 quick full body band routines.
- Stop every 5 minutes and do 15 to 20 squats, push ups, lunges and dips.
- If you’re at the beach, walk in the wet sand or the water then when you turn around walk in the dry sand.
Another added benefit of exercising outdoors is the natural Vitamin D absorption you’ll receive from the sun. The latest research shows that most Americans lack the proper amount of Vitamin D. It is so important because Vitamin D is a building block for calcium absorption and is necessary to fight off many illnesses and diseases; such as osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis and even some kinds of cancer. By getting just 10-15 minutes of natural sun light for people with lighter skin, and even longer for those with darker skin, you can get the proper amount of vitamin D for the day. Just think, you will be getting all the benefits of exercise while providing your body an essential element that protects you from a vitamin D deficiency and its associated illnesses. So, get out there and get going!