Did you know that exercising outdoors can offer greater benefits than going to the gym? When exercising outdoors you are exposed to fresh air and vitamin D from the sun; which means it will not only give you energy for your workout but also boost your mood! Another benefit to outdoor exercise is that it’s refreshing and fun so you don’t notice you’re working out. Outdoor exercise also provides diverse joint movements and requires more core stabilization. This helps you burn more calories and get a dynamic workout for your whole body. Some great ways to achieve a fun workout outdoors is bike riding on pavement or dirt trails, walking or hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, or simply bringing yourself to the park for a body weight workout! Studies show that people who engage in outdoor exercise actually stick to physical fitness regularly opposed to people who make weight loss goals and belong to a gym.
You may not know it but Ann Arbor has some of the greatest spots for outdoor enthusiasts. In 2010 it was named the 14th bike-friendly city in the US by Bicycling Magazine. Wheels in Motion bicycle shop holds a free group trail bike ride on Wednesday nights at 6:00pm. The Ann Arbor Arboretum has 123 acres of land with beautiful hiking trails and scenery that is free for the public to enjoy. They also offer great classes for adults and kids to learn about gardening and nature. There are kayak and canoe rentals in the Ann Arbor and surrounding areas by Heavner Canoe. They even hold a moonlight paddle once a month! SMOC (Southeast Michigan Orienteering Club) holds orienteering events from beginner to advanced where you get a map and have to navigate to checkpoints with your team by using a compass. This is great practice for an adventure race with Infiterra Sports! If you have time to venture out of the city there is great outdoor rock climbing in Grand Ledge, MI. You can get lessons and gear to prepare for this journey at Planet Rock in Ann Arbor. They have lessons going during all regular business hours with a fun and welcoming staff for beginners!
If you are new to outdoor activities and exercise the best place to start training is your core musculature. Try this!
1. Plank: Start by laying on your stomach, balance on your forearms and feet then lift your middle in a straight line about 12-16” off the ground. Make sure your lower back does not start to arch to compensate for weak stomach muscles. See how long you can hold it for and each week add 15 seconds to your time.
2. Push-Ups: In a plank position make sure that your hands are just outside of your chest and at your nipple line. Elbows should be slightly angled away from your sides but not perpendicular to your body. Make sure your body is in a straight line from your feet to your shoulders and don’t let your hips or low back sag towards the floor. Lower yourself down until your chest touches the floor and then push yourself back up. If you need to drop down to your knees to get full range of motion in your shoulders and arms that is better than only going half way down and staying up on your feet. Do as many as you can with good form and add 2-3 each week.
3. Superman Lift: Start by lying on the floor on your stomach and bringing your arms down by your side. Push your hips into the floor as you lift your chest, arms, and thighs off the ground. Keep arms and legs as straight as possible without bending. You should feel this in the back of your legs, butt, and mid back muscles. Hold this position as long as you can and add 15 seconds each week.
Do exercises 1-3 without resting in between. Then take a 1-3 minute break and begin another set. Complete 2-4 sets total, 2-5 days per week.
By: Kristi Worful, NASM Certified Personal Trainer