I've been meaning to write this post for awhile, as most of my workouts are outdoors, at a local park, with my dog!
Jogging, walking, and hiking are great cardio activities and combine the beauty of the outdoors with improving your heart health. (Did you know even 10 minutes of continuous aerobic activity can improve your cardiovascular fitness? So get that lunchtime walk in!)
Colleagues often talk about how bad they feel about staying indoors, working, on a beautiful day. Not only does enjoying the fresh air and being in the moment make you feel centered, but pining away looking out the window can do the opposite.
Mix Up Your Workout
While a long jog can feel great, not everyone can (or wants to) go for a continuous run. It's a daunting task for a beginner, and it's better to work up to bigger fitness goals! Like many things on social media, often what we see (an upbeat post about a coworker's 3 mile run before work; a Instagram star's before-and-after weight loss transformation) doesn't tell the whole story. It likely took that coworker months to get to 3 miles - months full of walk-jog alternations, some days more walk than jog. And those side-by-side weight loss photos don't capture the self-discipline, the 'cheat' days, the self-doubt experienced by most.
So, what are you waiting for? Let's break up that boring ol' jog with some active movements.
Parks often have evenly spaced bleachers, benches, stairs, and other fixtures you can use for a variety of exercises and/or stretches. My calves, hamstrings, and hip flexors run pretty tight, so I like to use the extra torque stairs and bleachers give to actively stretch before, during, and after a workout.
Use hills to your advantage! They're a great active cool-down - so don't feel bad for walking them instead of running.
On the other hand, if you have knee issues, you may find a slow jog up hill is far less painful than walking down, so adjust accordingly!
Always listen to your body, and be flexible with your workouts. Give yourself permission to stop!
Be aware of your heart rate and breathing. These are the best indicators for what intensity level you're working at.
Use What's Around You
Just like gyms use aerobic steps, boxes for box jumps, tires for tire flips - you can use the structural environment you find at the park for a variety of exercises to work your whole body. They are particularly great for beginners, with modified intensity! Let's get to it!
Will you incorporate these exercises into your next workout? Let me know!
Note: Go check out Workout Labs' Exercise Guide for illustrations on a whole bunch of exercises. It can be hard to remember what you meant when you write down "single leg split squat" but including a picture can make a big difference! The images I've included here are all from Workout Labs (see watermark). Please link back to them if you decide to re-post them!
Did you open this post thinking it was going to be another bouncy six-pack twenty-something sharing her early morning 10-minute workout? So sorry if I disappointed you.
Perhaps I should have titled it "how to stay sane while trying to stay fit in grad school". The school gym isn't very far from me - but it's not very close either. I've heard there's showers in the basement of the school - maybe I could go for a run in between classes (in the southern heat) like the girl I see everyday at lunch. PS I'm pretty sure shes running to and from her Athleta (Lulu Lemon, Fabletics) photo shoot.
So what am I going to talk to you about then?
I'd like to share the conversations (arguments?) that go through my head at least weekly, if not daily as they pertain to academics, wellness, social life, and literally just maintaining function.
A few weeks ago I joined a new gym, had my metabolic rate tested, and had a cardio plan to follow. Over the years, I've followed various fitness regimens and can reflect back on how they meshed with my schedule, how I felt, and if they would fit in my life now.
Right now, back pain and the desire to lean out are having a tug-o-war with my body. I'm seeing my chiropractor twice a week, but also taking it easy. I would rather workout 1-2 times a week (instead of 5) until I rebuild some strength than overdo it and be stuck on the sidelines.
It's better to build up from where you are.
Yes, you read the title right! I'm going to share with you my new fitness focus for November:
quick endurance circuit training
Let's break it down:
- QUICK: Only 30 minutes out of your day, 2 times per week
- ENDURANCE: These workouts boast high reps with moderate weight for muscle endurance and...
- CIRCUITS: Circuit training itself brings cardio into your weight workout so it will provide you with an endurance double-whammy
*BONUS: The constant movement of this workout and its engagement of large muscle groups can boost your anaerobic capacity, too! What's anaerobic? It is a certain process that your body uses during exercise for quick fast movements (example: 100 yard dash). Contrast this with aerobic exercise that is more like a 1-mile run.
Has your school or place of work ever done a "stairs" contest where everyone commits to skipping the elevator and taking the stairs instead? I know that I typically feel better when I make that choice, but sometimes its daunting and simply the last thing I want to do.
This group in Stockholm, Sweden took it a step further! They hypothesized: would people choose the stairs over the elevators if it was fun?
Watch and find out!
Do you know of similar events? Post below!