Ok, so summer is looming and as you dust off your summer wardrobe you may notice your clothes are a bit more ‘snug’ than they were when they were relegated to the back of the wardrobe last September (or is that just me?). As I write this the weather outside is cracking. Way too good to be sat indoors at a desk blogging but, in the name of all things good and healthy I’m happy to spend some time to share a great outdoor workout I’ve devised to get you out, dust off the cobwebs and shed a few pounds whilst you’re at it. Hey, you might even get a tan too. (How’s that for optimism?)
How outdoor workouts can be good for your health
Reasearch suggests that during the winter, 90% of British adults are short of vitamin D. We need vitamin D to keep our bones strong and to protect against diseases such as cancer of the colon and breast cancer. Sunlight not only stimulates the production of vitamin D in our bodies, but it can also alleviate depression and insomnia.
Release your inner-child
As children, we spend alot of time playing outdoors. Think rounders on the school playing field, games of touch in the playground, anyone remember ‘one knee, two knee?’. When we ‘play’ outdoors as adults we’re taken back to these childhood memories, creating a carefree feeling of fun and well being.
Get out and burn more calories
A 1996 British study discovered that you burn more clories running outside. This is because of the air resistance which you don’t get on a treadmill.
Stick to your plan
People who exercise outdoors are more likely to stick to it than those who exercise indoors. Doing a circuit-style workout, you can vary your workout often which will stop you becoming bored and dropping out. Once you’ve done it a few times, you’ll become more confident. You’ll start eyeing up logs, railings and park benches and thinking of how to incorporate them into your workouts as ‘gym kit’. Rope a partner of friend in or, if you have children, why not take them with you? Older children will enjoy competing with Mum or Dad and younger ones can play safely in the park with you keeping an eye on them.
It’s free, healthy and fun!
Ok, gyms have their place. We have one in the studio so I’m not going to knock them but if you don’t have access to a gym then outdoor exercise is fantastic. For a start it’s free. Gym memberships in Bristol can range from £20 to £70+ so your wallet will definitely thank you. And no, this doesn’t mean you can spend the savings on wine, chocolate and takeaways!
Being closer to nature is stimulating, restorative and a great way to de-stress. Exercise releases endorphins (the feel-good chemical in our bodies) so this, combined with getting out in the fresh air will make you feel great. Try it once, see how you feel and I’m sure you’ll want to do it again.
Ok, down to business. This is a circuit-style workout. All you need is yourself, your workout gear, a decent pair of trainers and a park with a bench and some trees. Shouldn’t be too hard to find. The idea is that you alternate between aerobic activities (A) (for the heart and lungs) and resistance activities (R) (for strength/toning) so if you don’t like a particular activity (or are worried about looking silly!) swap it for another aerobic or resistance that you do like. Remember, we are trying to make exercise enjoyable. By mixing up the moves the workout is varied and will keep challenging your body.
Doing this 2 to 3 times per week, combined with a healthy diet, is enough to see results in as little as 6 weeks. Once it starts becoming easier, push yourself harder. If, at first you can’t do it for the full amount of time, do what you can and try to increase it each week. Some of the activities have harder options. Give these a go once it becomes easier. Each activity is timed. Allow yourself 30secs -1 minute in between each activity. Do the circuit twice for a 30 min workout. Remember to stay hydrated too. Good luck and enjoy!
Warm up-5 Mins
Walk briskly or jog for 5 mins
Press-ups (R)-1 Min
Find a tree or lampost and stand a few feet away from it. Put you hands on the tree at shoulder level and, keeping your back straight, bend your elbows and lower towards the tree in a press up. Keep your elbows pointing out. To make this harder, do it on a bench or harder still, on the floor. The important thing is to keep your back straight and tummy pulled in.
Shuttle runs (A) – 1 Min
Find 2 markers, such as a bench and tree about 10 metres apart and run back and forth between them for 30 seconds. Aim for a sprint but do what you can and build to a sprint as you get fitter.
Walking lunges (R) – 1 Min
Take a big step forward with the right foot and, keeping your right knee behind your toe, lower into a lunge until just before your left knee almost touches the floor. Push up with the right foot and repeat on the other side. If the knee comes over the toe, take a bigger step. To make it harder, lunge down then jump up and straight down into a lunge on the other leg.
Bench step-ups (A) – 1 Min
Find a bench and, keeping your back straight and posture strong, step your whole foot onto the bench and lift yourself so you’re standing on the bench. Carefully lower down and repeat with the other leg. To make it harder, jump with both feet onto the bench and step down.
Bar pull-ups (R) – 1 Min
Find a bar such as a climbing frame at about shoulder height. Stand in front of the bar so it’s next to your body and take hold of the bar. lean back so your arms are straight and you’re supporting your weight with your arms. Bend your elbows and pull yourself in towards the bar. To make this harder, find a higher bar and hang from the bar with your arms, taking your feet off the floor and crossing them underneath you. Pull your body up to the bar and aim to get your chin up to the bar.
High jogs (A) – 1 Min
Jog on the spot, lifting your knees to hip level
Bench dips (R) – 1 Minute
Find a bench and sit with your bum on the edge and hold the edge of the bench next to your hips. Scoot your bum forwards off of the bench and support your weight with your arms. Slowly lower yourself to the floor, stopping just before you touch the ground then push back up to bench height and repeat. Keep your elbows tucked in and pointing back.
Jumping jacks (A) – 1 Minute
Start standing with your hands by your sides and jump into a ‘star’ position with your legs wide and arms above your head. Jump back to your starting position and repeat.
The plank (R) – 1 Minute
Face down, raise up so you’re up on your toes and elbows with your knees and hips off the floor. Keep your body in a straight line from your head to your heels and keep your tummy muscles contracted with your pelvis tucked in to prevent your bottom sticking up. Holding this for a minute is tough. Do what you can and build up. If it hurts your back either lower your knees or do sit-ups instead. To make it harder straighten your arms so you’re in a press-up position.
Cool down – 3 Minutes
Brisk walk slowing towards the end of the 3 mins and stretch.
Finally, if you feel dizzy or in pain at any stage, please stop. If you are new to exercise, start very slowly and don’t push yourself harder than is comfortable. If you want any help, please feel free to leave a comment.