Exercise And The Great Outdoors

Warm weather approaches and you feel the need to exercise. Try spicing things up by going outside to play.

There are many ways to enjoy the outdoors and get your exercise at the same time. If you normally run on a treadmill or use a stationary bike at your local gym, try taking those activities outdoors. You’ll find that you spend more time doing the activities than you would while cooped up inside, going nowhere, staring at screen.

If a regimented running or biking program is not to your liking there are other ways to enjoy your time outside.

Dog owners need to walk their pets regardless of scheduled exercise time. This is a good opportunity to morph the two activities into one and save some time. Dogs love to run and jump and play. Make your daily walk a fun experience for both you and your pet by working in some sprints. Your dog will love it and your heart will thank you. Start by walking for 5 minutes to warm up then sprint for 10-15 seconds and then walk for two minutes and sprint again. Continue with 5-10 sets of sprints and then move on to walking lunges. If you’re in an off leash area, you can bring a ball to throw and while the dog is retrieving the ball you can perform walking lunges – try 5 sets. If your dog must remain on the leash, alternate 10 walking lunges with 20 normal steps for 5 sets. You can also perform mini football drills with your dog: with the ball held in one hand, lower to a half squat position and start running sideways to the right across the field, then switch to run backwards, then sideways to the left, then throw the ball and chase the dog. This is a good bonding experience for you and your pet and you get a pretty good workout out of the whole experience.

Another idea is to take a one hour walk/hike through your local park or take it to the mountains this weekend and really go for a hike. Climbing up hills and over uneven terrain is a good workout for your legs, your core, and your heart. If you’re stuck in the city, take a walk to your local park and do a lap or two around it. It will get you out of the house, into the fresh air and sunlight, and help you shake the cobwebs.

Other forms of exercise include riding your bike or walking to and from work, rollerblading (be sure to wear protective gear), and long boarding (for all you hip young people out there). If time does not permit a walk or bike ride to work, recruit a coworker to go walking with you during the lunch hour.

Another important aspect to getting outside during the lunch hour is to refresh yourself and give your mind and eyes a break from the daily grind. People who take lunch at their desk and continue to work are less productive in the afternoons than those who get outside, breathe in some fresh air and give their brains a much needed break. A study conducted by the University of Bristol showed that people who exercised either before work or during lunchtime showed an improvement in mood and performance indicators on the days they exercised as compared to the days they did not exercise.

Keep a light t-shirt and a pair of running shoes in your office so you won’t miss out on any opportunities.

If you’re a stay at home mom you have the added advantage of running your own schedule. Make sure you get outside at least once a day. Put your child in a carrier, stroller, or chariot and head out for a walk or a light jog.

Both office buildings and houses have some degree of stale air and pollutants so it’s a great idea to spend some time outdoors, everyday. Indoor environments are where you spend more than 80% of your time and during this time you’re exposed to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and fine particulate matter.

The outdoors will also expose you to sunlight which will help your body produce vitamin D. Researchers suggest that your body can synthesize enough vitamin D from as little as 5-30 minutes of sun exposure to the face, hands, arms, and legs two times per week – without the use of sunscreen. Since high levels of exposure are linked to skin cancer, I wouldn’t recommend going out in the sun without protection. Studies have shown that a sunscreen with an SPF of 8 or higher will successfully block the vitamin D producing UV rays, but since individuals do not apply sufficient quantities or reapply at regular intervals it’s possible to synthesize some vitamin D while wearing sunscreen. And if you’re thinking you get your daily dose of sunshine through your office or living room window – think again. UVB radiation does not penetrate glass. You have to go outside to receive the benefits of the sun.

Exercise does not have to be performed in a regimented manner – it all depends on your goals. The whole idea is to MOVE your body and to increase blood flow. It will wake your tissues up and leave you feeling alert and refreshed. So go on, get out there.

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