5 workouts to take out of the gym and into nature
Healthy living isn’t one size fits all. Many people find success with maintaining a healthy way of life through a variety of different diets, workouts and lifestyles.
After graduation from college, I found it challenging to lose the weight I had gained during school, and to eat healthy and keep fit. I believed that if I wanted to be fit, I had to hit the gym regularly and only eat salads.
It wasn’t until I stepped out of the gym — and this mindset — and spent time creating and developing tasty, healthy recipes and started exercising in nature that I found success.
I began taking my workouts outside the four, sweaty walls of a traditional gym and exercising outdoors. One year and 50 pounds later, there’s nothing better to me than finishing a workout with a victorious breath of fresh air.
With summer approaching, there’s no better time than now to ditch the gym and head outside. Here are five different workouts you can do in nature.
It’s time to take your treadmill run onto nature’s tread.
Trail running is a great way to enjoy nature and challenge yourself. Running in nature is generally more stimulating than running indoors, since you need to adjust your pace and stride based on the terrain. It’s also likely that you will burn more calories running outdoors thanks to the varying degrees of incline and decline. Trail running provides a more sensory and visually interesting run, and you feel like you’re actually getting somewhere, because you are.
While on your run, give plogging a try. Plogging, a combination of jogging and picking up litter, is a new trend dashing across the world. Not only will you feel the burn in your glutes, legs and arms, but you'll also help keep nature clean!
There’s something special about taking a deep, soothing ujjayi breath of air.
According to a Swedish study, seeing elements of nature around you, especially fractals (for example, the geometric patterns of tree branches and fern leaves), can increase your wakeful relaxation — feeling relaxed but still connected and mindful — and internal focus, both of which are important parts of your yoga practice.
HITT circuit training (in the park)
Immersing yourself in nature has its benefits, and when you add in exercise you’re doing your body and mind a whole lot of good.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a great way to get in an effective workout in a short period of time. This training technique involves intense bursts of exercise, such as jumping jacks or squats, followed by a low-intensity activity, such as walking or rest. HIIT also comes with metabolic benefits and has been proven to elevate metabolism, improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood pressure.
Since the majority of HIIT workouts don’t require equipment, they can be done anywhere. By taking this workout outdoors you’re breathing in fresh air, decreasing your stress and increasing your energy level.
Weight and strength training
Weight and strength training is a great way to improve heart health and endurance, body composition and increase strength. Like HIIT, these short workouts are packed with benefits. When you take this workout into your backyard or nearby natural space using free weights or your own body weight, you’re increasing the good you’re doing for your body.
Weight training has been shown to improve mood, and so does spending time outdoors. So, give your mood a double shot of happiness by taking your weights into nature.
One of my favourite workouts is spinning (indoor cycling), mainly because they mimic outdoor riding (such as climbing and downhill power pedalling).
Why not get the real deal by hopping on two wheels and hitting a bike path, nearby forest or by pedalling around your neighbourhood? Riding your bike is a great way to explore the outdoors, and it’s good for your heart health. This low-impact exercise is an excellent alternative to driving and taking public transit; not only are you getting nature’s benefits, you’re giving back to nature too! Be sure to cycle only in areas where it is permitted, and be careful not to disturb the surrounding environment by widening the trail or going off trail.
Incorporating nature into my workouts and developing healthy eating habits is what helped me achieve weight loss success and adopt a healthy lifestyle. Not only do I see a difference on the scale, I feel lighter — both physically and mentally — each time I throw on my workout gear and head into the forest.
Try taking your workout outdoors. You might be surprised by what you discover both there and in yourself.