No more excuses! It's time to take your workout outside. Yup! It's the perfect season to burn calories and sculpt every muscle without stepping inside a gym.
Heidi Klum, Fergie, and Jennifer Carpenter all love to hit the pavement to blast fat.
"There are a few very cool advantages of doing some of your training outdoors," reveals fitness expert Joe Dowdell, who founded New York City's Peak Performance. Joe adds, "First and foremost, it provides a change of scenery, which can give you an additional boost of energy to train a little harder. Second, sunlight stimulates the production of vitamin D, which is an extremely important nutrient that helps promote the absorption of calcium, helps strengthen bones via remodeling, reduces systemic inflammation, and boosts the immune system. Finally, people who exercise outdoors seem to experience higher levels of post exercise endorphins."
Studies also show that outdoor exercise can boost self-esteem and improve your mood. These are all good reasons to lace up and head out to your backyard or a nearby park. Besides running and cycling, there are lots of exercises that can be done outdoors and provide an awesome workout.
Joe Dowdell shares with Healthy Hollywood five of his favorite outdoor activities:
HILL SPRINTS: One of the best forms of outdoor training is hill sprints. Hill sprints are a full body workout. Typically, I don't recommend them to beginners (unless jogging instead of sprinting) as I feel that people need some baseline strength and conditioning levels to perform well. That being said, if you have been training for a little while (i.e., 6-9 months minimum), and are looking to take your conditioning to another level, hill sprints are the answer.
Find a hill with the following criteria: 1) a 5-15 degree slope 2) allows you to be able to sprint for 10-30 seconds in duration. It should be noted that the steeper the slope, the more challenging it will be. Depending on your current fitness level and the above criteria, you may only need to sprint part of the way up the hill. After sprinting up the hill for a predetermined distance or time, walk back down and repeat several times.
TENNIS: I'm not a great tennis player by any means, but I find it to be a really fun way to get a total body workout in, especially when it's nice outside. One of the things that I love most about tennis is the fact that it requires you to perform quick bursts of movement in multiple directions. Performing rapid changes of direction can be very demanding on the body, so make sure you ease yourself into the activity. Taking a few lessons can go a long way to enjoying the game even more.
SURFING: Surfing is an awesome total body workout that comes with the added benefit of being in the fresh air and salt water for a few hours. Even if you aren't very good at it and can barely stand up or the waves aren't that great, your muscles, especially your shoulders, arms and upper back, will be completely taxed. Similar to tennis, a couple of lessons will help you enjoy surfing even more.
STADIUM/BLEACHER RUNS: Similar to hill sprints, stadium/bleacher runs can be a tremendous total body workout. As I explained with hill sprints, if you are a beginner you should start by jogging up the stairs. There are several ways to perform bleacher runs. You can simply jog/sprint up to the top, and then walk down and repeat. If you are very fit and want an added challenge, you can run up the stairs, taking two steps at a time, and then walk back down and repeat.
Or, if you are looking for something that will really challenge your power endurance, you can do "alpines," which is what I use to do when I was in college. Basically, I would start at the bottom of the basketball stadium, run to the top of the bleachers and jog across the top row to the next set of stairs. Then, I would jog down to the bottom and across to the next set of stairs and then repeat. I would continue this process until I went completely around the stadium once.
HIKING: Hiking is a great outdoor activity that is very scalable to your current fitness level. Depending on the terrain and steepness of the trail, it can range from being mildly challenging to extremely demanding. All you need is some comfortable clothing, proper footwear, water and possibly some food depending on the planned duration of your hike.
For more information on Peak Performance, check out www.peakperformancenyc.com.
-- Terri MacLeod
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