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Exercising Outdoors, Part 1

26 Apr 2008

Since exercise is something we’ll have to do regularly to be in great shape and lengthen our lives, it would be a good idea to make it at least somewhat enjoyable. How do you make working out fun? As a trainer here in New England, one thing I notice every spring, as soon as the thermostat hits the 50s and the snow has cleared, the last place many sporadic gym-goers want to be is indoors exercising. After hibernating for three months, most of us are ready to enjoy mild and pleasant weather. It’s a good thing the outdoors provides a great exercise environment while relieving the symptoms of cabin and cubicle fevers.

Exercising outdoors can be adapted to all levels of exercisers. If you’re just starting to get into the routine of working out after a long layoff, walking and light hiking is a great start. Try long strolls for at least a half hour’s worth of low-intensity cardiovascular exercise and work up several 5-10-minute bursts of short, brisk walks for a more intense work out. If walking for a full consecutive half hour is tough, start with at least one daily short walk and work up to a half hour of activity. As walking becomes more manageable, try to add jogging intervals until you can manage a full 10-20 consecutive minutes of jogging. Soon you’ll be on your way to an easy run.

Once you’re comfortable with walking or jogging for an excellent cardiovascular workout, it’s time to add flexibility and strength work to your outdoor exercise routine. You won’t need to worry about hauling dumbbells along with you to your local park—your own body is all you need to complete some flexibility and strength exercises. See the next entry for a couple bodyweight exercises that will help you improve strength and flexibility.

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