4 Reasons to exercise outdoors
Running indoors on a sweaty treadmill can't compare with the feeling of the wind on your face and the spray of the surf while running on beach sand. Likewise, doing intervals on a swing-set beats a crowded aerobics class any time. In fact, outdoor workouts offer benefits indoor workouts don't, so get outside for the following fun-in-the-sun challenging moves.
Few things beat stair climbing for calorie-burning. Taking it outside makes it easier to find motivation. Look for a park or outdoor stadium and warm up with light jogging on flat ground for 5 to 8 minutes. Stretch your calf muscles before you start: Lean against a wall, push-up style, with legs straight and heels on the ground; hold until you feel a gentle pull in your calf muscle, then hold that stretch for 15 seconds. Run up the stairs -- but walk down to avoid too much pressure on the patella (knee cap).
You're not only more likely to enjoy exercising outdoors, but you're also more apt to stick with it, according to a study conducted at The Ohio State University. Inline skating provides a fun, low-impact fresh-air option (provided you don't fall, of course) involving coordination, core stability and balance. The lateral skating motion works the hips and glutes. Most important: Learn how to stop before you do anything else -- and wear protective padding.
Running on cool sand with sea spray in your hair does more than offer motivation: Barefoot running causes your body to make adjustments that allow a more natural foot pattern. Before you begin, however, make sure your ankles are warmed up. Start with 5 to 8 minutes of gentle walking, then get ankles ready: "Draw" the alphabet with your feet, pointing and flexing toes and moving feet side-to-side.
If you're looking for a challenging outdoor workout, try adding a few explosive moves to your park routine. Use a 6- to 12-inch wall or ledge (height depends on the exercise and your abilities). Plyometrics are not for beginners, however: You should be actively strength training, be free of injuries or limitations and possess good core stability. Warm up thoroughly and weave these moves into your workout once or twice a week.
Single-leg jump-off : Stand with one foot on a ledge or wall with heel close to the edge. Push off of the foot on top of the ledge by extending through the entire leg and foot, gaining as much height as possible as you swing both arms up for height, landing on the same foot. Repeat 10 times.
Double-leg jump: Stand in front of a 12- to 42-inch-high ledge, feet shoulder-width apart and hands behind your head with elbows out to the sides. Squat down slightly and jump up explosively, landing softly with both feet on the ledge. Step back down and repeat 10 times.
Swing set fitness
Exercise with a playground swing
Swing set fitness is a form of resistance training that is perfect for weight loss or strength training.