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Using your city to get fit

You don’t need an expensive membership to a fancy gym to get in shape. To get an intense cardio and strengthening workout, look no further than your own neighborhood. Save money on that gym membership and use your city to get fit. Unlike a gym workout, an outdoor exercise routine provides fresh air, a chance to explore your surroundings and variety to keep you from getting bored with your workout.

Woman rollerblading

Outdoor intervals

Determine a series of landmarks — say, every red light or every third parked car — and alternate between running and walking. According to a 2010 study published in The Journal of Physiology, researchers from McMaster University in Canada showed “the benefits of short term high-intensity interval training (HIT) as a time-efficient but safe alternative to traditional types of moderate long term exercise.” In other words, by doing one- or two-minute high-intensity exercises (like sprinting a block), followed by low-intensity exercise (like walking the next block), you actually get more out of your workout. While you’re at it, breathe deeply to take in all that fresh air.

Wheel around

Have your rollerblades been collecting dust since the late ’90s? Dust off those wheels or bring out your bicycle to spice up your fitness routine with outdoor fun. Use Google Maps to plan a route by clicking on the Bicycling tab to get bike-safe directions. Start with a short distance that starts and ends at your front door. Aim to include a few hills or back roads with rougher terrain. Over time, extend the route to include new neighborhoods — you’ll get a heart-healthy workout while exploring your city.

Strength train

Use what your city offers for a solid arm workout, too. In a park or at a bus stop, knock out your pushups on benches. Grasp the edge of a bench and lower yourself into a plank. Push back up without locking your elbows. Try to integrate these moves into your outdoor intervals. For example, each time you pass a bus stop, do 15 fast pushups on the edge of the bench. Run or walk to the next bench and repeat. As an alternative, jog to a nearby playground and use the monkey bars for pull-ups.

Step it up

Channel your inner Rocky and utilize flights of stairs in parks or at office buildings to get gorgeous gams. For beginners, walk the stairs taking them two at a time on the way up and one at a time on the way down. More advanced runners can sprint the stairs, while the most advanced runners should sprint the stairs taking them two at a time. Running stairs not only provides a powerful leg-strengthening exercise, it also gives you a vigorous cardio workout

Watch: How to do bench push-ups

Learn how to do push-ups using a park bench in this video.

More fitness tips

Quick cardio workouts in your neighborhood
Setting up a workout schedule
Ways to motivate yourself to get fit

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