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!
a blog about health, wellness, nutrition, and fitness from an epidemiologist / dietitian with personal trainer experience
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