‘Fall’ in Love With Outdoor Fitness

By Jessica Matthews, MS, E-RYT

With the season of Fall officially upon us, what better way to take advantage of the crisp, beautiful Autumn weather than to take your workout outdoors using little or no equipment. Varying your workouts between outdoors and indoors is great way to diversify your program, and there are some real benefits that come with balancing your exercise routine between these two environments. Research has shown that training outdoors tends to be more engaging and mentally stimulating compared to exercising indoors, as participants who exercise outside report greater feelings of revitalization and increased energy. In addition, individuals also tend to find greater enjoyment when they exercise outdoors amongst nature rather than inside, and because of that they are often more likely to repeat the activity and adhere to a program long-term.

Not currently exercising (or not doing so on a consistent basis)? There are many reasons individuals cite for not exercising, the most common of which are:

“I don’t have enough time to exercise.”

Exercising doesn’t mean you have to take hours out of your day to devote to exercise. Recommendations published in the Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health as well as in the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association’s physical activity and public health guidelines state that to improve health and reduce the risk of chronic disease, individuals should aim to engage in a total of at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week. Got a half-hour to spare? Try this 30-minute lunch time workout – no equipment needed!

“It’s too expensive.”

The truth of the matter is that being healthy and active does not require that you purchase a gym membership or an expensive piece of fitness equipment. In fact, you can workout at home using no equipment at all, and to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air try taking this total-body workout outdoors and soak in all of the beautiful scenery while simultaneously strengthening and sculpting your body.

“I don’t like working out.”

Often when we think of working out, we think of spending time at the gym performing exercises we rather not be doing. Instead of thinking of exercise as a “chore” that you have to do, find an activity that you enjoy, and get outside and do it! Outdoor activities such as trail running, in-line skating and mountain biking are all great options to spice up your workout while having fun and burning some serious calories!

Also keep in mind that many of the activities and chores you perform during this season can help to burn calories as well, such as (*calorie estimates based on a 150-lb individual):

  • 15 minutes of walking the dog- 63 calories
  • 20 minutes of cleaning gutters- 120 calories
  • 30 minutes of raking the lawn- 143 calories
  • 30 minutes game of touch football- 286 calories
  • 60 minutes of running/playing with your children (vigorous intensity) – 358 calories

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and enjoy the many benefits the great outdoors has to offer, all while getting fit in the process!

Jessica Matthews, MS is an exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise® (ACE®), the nation’s trusted authority on fitness. Matthews, who is also an ACE-certified Personal Trainer, ACE-certified Group Fitness Instructor and a registered yoga instructor, specializes in a number of areas, including basic wellness, women’s fitness and mind-body exercise.

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