During the cold, wet and dark days of winter, the gym is a haven for fitness fanatics. Convenient location and climate control make it the ideal place to exercise. But with winter waning and spring having finally sprung, it’s time to start thinking about taking your routine outdoors.
Just because you’re trading gym time for blue skies doesn’t mean you have to give up trying to be a hard-body. In fact, there are a ton of outdoor activities that mimic gym workouts while producing added benefits. The fresh air and sunshine will revitalize you in ways that track-lighting and wall-to-wall mirrors can’t.
If you’re reluctant to make the move from the gym to the great outdoors, here are few activities that might motivate you:
Far from a tiptoe through the tulips, power hiking is an aggressive trek that gets your heart rate up for an extended period of time. Invest in a pair of hiking poles and head for the hills, but remember that elevation gain is secondary to keeping up a brisk pace.
To step your workout up a notch, sport a stuffed backpack. It’s also wise to wear solid and supportive footwear to avoid injury.
Busting out the blades after the street-cleaning crews have done their thing is a fab way to tone your lower body. It’s also a great low-impact cardio workout.
Chose a hilly course and your workout will practically take care of itself; really give ‘er on the up-slopes and recover on the down.
Trails help improve balance and stamina better than roads, with the added bonus of beautiful scenery. The solitude can also be a refreshing change of pace. Many shoe companies now make models designed specifically for trail running; it’s in your best interest to invest in a pair.
The ultimate low-impact cardio workout, road biking is great for long, steady aerobic conditioning. Keep conscious of your surroundings though, and always ride with traffic.
Mountain biking burns far more calories than road biking, because taking to the hills provides a full-body workout. You’re varying your cadence a lot and using your upper body to pull on the handle bars.
Aim to spin the pedals quickly and smoothly, rather than grinding along in high gear: doing so will spare your knees.
Few activities can match the adrenaline rushes and natural highs that rock climbing provides. Long, moderate routes also promote endurance and fine muscle balance.
It’s best to master the basics (climbing technique, gear usage) at an indoor rock gym, then take it outside – where it belongs.
Aside from fresh air and freedom of movement, exercising outdoors is fantastic because it’s FREE! By investing in a few basic pieces of equipment you can maintain your tight physique without the added expense of a gym membership. So take a hiatus from the health club and hit the streets – your body and your bank account will thank you!