Embrace the Outdoors
by Lucy Miller
A Fitness and Nutrition Expert
I don’t know about you, but I feel like a different person when the sun comes out. My mood picks up and I’m uber motivated when it comes to my workouts. There is just something about getting up in the mornings and starting my day with a workout in the great outdoors, I feel invigorated and ready to take on the world.
Gone, is the stuffy gym and instead, I see my local park as my playground. An hour to myself, being creative and reaping the benefits of Mother Nature’s playground!
Here, are some favourite outdoor workouts. Who knew that exercise could be so fun?
- Hill sprints. Find a hill and run up it as fast as you can, then run down slowly to recover. Try and do it at least five times. Pushing yourself for short increments of time like this is a great interval-type workout, which is great for fat loss and saving time.
- Hit the trails. The greatest thing about running outdoors, no matter where you are, is the ever-changing terrain. This challenges our body to move in ways it was designed to. When you're running on a trail, you often move side-to-side, up and down, and diagonally. This helps you gain muscle and strengthens your joints.
- If you have access to the beach, go and make use of the sand. Very soft surfaces will absorb more energy than tarmac, so you have to work harder to push off. This not only increases your effort level and burns more calories, but it’s a lot easier on your joints too!
- Do some circuits and go freestyle. I love nothing more than running to one bench and doing a set of 20 press-ups, then running to the next bench and doing a set of step-ups. Change your exercises at every bench or tree and just keep moving. There is so much you can do and the ever-changing environment really distracts you.
- Swap the exercise bike for a real bike. During the summer, I’ll use my bike as much as possible. Cycling to the shops or a friend's house are both more appealing than sitting in a car and a good way of saving money on fuel or public transport. Studies also show that outdoor exercise can cut levels of depression, tension and anger, while increasing your energy, positivity and feelings of well-being.
- Other ideas to workout naturally is using park benches to do some dips - it will really make your triceps and shoulders burn, doing pull ups on a low and strong branch, (you can jump yourself up if you’re not quite strong enough to pull your own weight) and using a fallen tree branch or log as a tightrope - this does wonders for your calves, quads and balance.
As you can see the possibilities of working out are endless, so embrace the outdoors and have some fun. You will get fitter for it, happier for it and you could save some money too. What’s not to like?
Lucy Miller is a fitness and nutrition advisor, and Fitness Editor at Health & Fitness Magazine (www.womensfitness.co.uk
). She holds fitness qualifications from NASM Training and Premier Training International.Read her biography