Take it outside

After days of rain and mizzle it appears that spring may have finally sprung. This morning’s weather tempted me outside for a quick session that included sprints and bodyweight exercises – perfect for blowing away the cobwebs.

Spring weather provides the perfect opportunity to shake up your exercise regime by training outdoors. Getting out in the fresh air is fun and challenging and, when it comes to venues, we’re spoilt for choice here in Cornwall with our spectacular scenery.

Exercising outdoors relieves the boredom of a stale exercise regime and provides additional training stimulus, both physical and mental. Compare running outdoors to running on a treadmill; different surfaces, hills and wind resistance all increase the difficulty of your workout and instead of looking at a TV screen or blank wall, you can immerse yourself in the scenery.

You don’t need any fancy equipment to get started. Walking and jogging are great ways to burn off calories and if you want to take things to the next level you should head for the beach. The resistance provided by the sand and the extra demands it places on your sense of balance will intensify your workout. If you’re a beginner, opt for compacted rather than soft sand. You will still get the challenge of beach running but it won’t be quite as tough.

Interval training will rev up your metabolism and burn calories. This training method intersperses short bursts of high intensity with low intensity work, for example, running for one minute, followed by one minute walking. You can also vary the intensity using inclines.

Add variety to your interval training with fartlek. Taking its name from the Swedish word for speed play, this is a freestyle interval training system where the intervals aren’t evenly spaced. The participant varies the intensity according to how they feel by using speed or gradient.

You can easily put together an outdoor circuit without equipment. Shuttle runs, shadow boxing or star jumps provide a cardio element while body weight exercises such as press ups and squats will take care of resistance.

Be creative and use your surroundings. Park benches will provide you with a bench for triceps dips while kerbs or steps are ideal for step ups. If your park has a playground, even better. Bars and poles provide a great foundation for a resistance workout. You can mix things up by taking just one or two pieces of equipment – a pair of dumbbells, a skipping rope, medicine ball or resistance band.

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