Though we love our time at the gym, all those cardio machines, big-screen TVs, and bright lights require a lot of electricity, while the locker rooms and swimming pool use a lot of water.
We don’t suggest forgoing your gym fitness, but we do encourage you to “unplug” and take your exercise outdoors to celebrate Earth Day. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) recommends the following eco-friendly outdoor workouts.
Take a hike
Let’s face it: The hustle and bustle of health clubs can be far from relaxing. One of the best ways to work out and de-stress is to find your nearest trail system and go hiking. If you’re used to walking or jogging on a treadmill, those steep mountain inclines are sure to get your heart pumping — no electricity required. For the best hiking experience, the experts at ACE recommend that you bring water, a snack, insect repellent and sunscreen.
Spin class is fun, but consider it training to ride your real bike. Take a leisure ride through your community or venture outside of the city so you can work on your speed. Biking will boost your cardiovascular fitness as well as your lower-body muscular endurance and strength. Keep your abs engaged and you’ll get a great core workout, too. Be sure to obey all traffic laws and trail rules, wear your helmet and reflective clothing (or lights if you’re biking at dusk or dawn), take water and a snack, and use your hand signals to alert drivers and other bikers.
For those of you near a lake or ocean, jump in and swim for fitness (assuming it’s warm enough, of course). If you rarely swim at the gym, put it on your exercise to-do list for this spring and summer to add variety to your regular workout regime. The fitness pros at ACE give two thumbs-up to swimming because lap swimming gives you a great full-body workout, while using a noodle, hand-held paddles or a kickboard offers cardio and strength training benefits. When you’re swimming outside, remember to slather on the sunscreen to protect your skin.
Inline skating, also known as Rollerblading, is a fun, fast way to exercise in the great outdoors. Whether it’s through the neighborhood or at a local park, this is an activity your entire family will enjoy. Rollerblading can increase your cardio fitness, core strength, lower-body muscle tone, and balance. Just be sure to wear protective gear, such as wrist, elbow and knee pads, and a helmet to help prevent injuries in the case you or another family member takes a spill.
We recommend taking advantage of any outdoor workout, especially if there is a bootcamp class at the nearest park, but if you’re looking to wind down and stretch out, look for outdoor yoga or Pilates classes. Always be diligent about wearing sunscreen and staying hydrated, regardless of the outdoor activity you’re doing.