May 31st, 2021
One of the beautiful things about living in Canada is we experience a lot of variety with our weather. From the short, dark and cold winter days – to the long, bright and hot days of summer. There are several ways to exercise outdoors , and we’ll profile a few, but to start we recommend you focus on the benefit it can have on your mind.
Outdoor exercise improves mental health
Whether your backyard is a forest, or you need to go to a local park to experience nature, the good news is it has been scientifically proven by environmental psychologists that just spending time outside and in nature can reduce the human stress response and augment mental health.
Now, let’s dive into some easy and enjoyable outdoor exercise ideas.
The Playground Workout
If you’re limited by the space or equipment you have at home, or simply want to step outside – then know a workout on a playground can be an awesome option!
It goes without saying that playgrounds are intentionally built for children, and you should always defer to them. Nonetheless exercise your good judgment – such as when kids aren’t using it (early mornings, evenings etc).
Grip the monkey bars and play on them like you were a kids, or intentionally use them for hangs or chin-ups and pullups. Need some help? Talk to us, we’re here for you.
Playgrounds can be used 12 months of the year, as long as you prepare for it.
Tip: metal can get very hot in the summer and freezing in the winter – so weather permitting, think about having a set of thin lifting gloves or warm mitts.
The Park Workout
If swinging, hanging, or stretching on the monkey bars is not for you, try this generalized 15-minute park workout. You can make use of outdoor steps, stairs, or park benches.
– 15 “box jumps” (If it’s icy, we recommend doing 15 squats instead)
– 15 Step-Ups (each leg)
– 15 Bulgarian Split Squats (each leg)
– 1-minute Jumping Jacks
– 30 second rest
Complete 3 rounds.
Take up Running
Maybe you enjoy running in the warmer months or maybe you haven’t even given running a chance. Either way winter running doesn’t have to be a scary feat.
Whether you are already able to bust out a 30-minute run or want to take it slow by alternating with a two-minute run, one-minute walk interval (or any other timing variation that appeals to you).
Tips for summer running
Some of our tips for running in the summer months include:
1. Check the Air Quality Health Index.
2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
3. Keep it early or late.
4. Dress appropriately.
5. Allow for acclimation.
6. Find the shade.
7. Avoid concrete.
Learn more about these tips on running during the hot and warm months.
Tips for winter running
And if you are reading this during the colder months, here are our top four tips for winter running:
1. Layer up. adding multiple thin layers will help wick the sweat away without leaving you feeling wet and cold at the end.
2. Invest in running shoes with treads (trail shoes are a good option here, even if you are sticking to the roads). A cheaper alternative to a new pair of shoes is a traction device that slides over your shoes.
3. Run when the sun is up. Despite it being winter the sun still has a warming effect!
4. Pick a turn-a-round point. Running an out and back means that you get a feel for the terrain on the way out, and on the way back, when you experience fatigue, you are already aware of which points on the sidewalk or road you have to watch out for.
Go for a Hike
Walking and hiking is often an underrated activity in the fitness community. Not only will hiking provide all those psychological benefits associated with being outside, but it’s also an activity that you can do with others. For more on the benefits of hiking, walking, and running read this article.
Similar rules to the weather apply to running as they do to winter hiking.
A great app for finding trails in your area is AllTrails which will also allow you to see reviews from others who have recently hiked on your trails of interest. So, grab your partner or your kids and go out and explore a new trail in your area!
Remember…any movement is good movement!
Workout with Nielsen Fitness outdoors
We are here to guide you safely and effectively through a customized program, whether you are exercising in your backyard, working with us virtually via your laptop screen, or taking your workout to the park.
Do you need some help on technique or want to know which exercises you should or should not do? Then contact us.
Updated on August 25, 2022.