The Great Outdoors is a great workout

The Great Outdoors is a Great Workout

Summer is the season of outdoor workouts. From urban environments to the lakeshore, here in the Midwest we have more options to exercise in the fresh air than we frequently acknowledge. Get out and get sweaty no matter what your time frame or location:

Lake Michigan Shoreline
Walking in sand works your feet and leg muscles completely differently than traditional workouts, and there’s nothing more scenic than a long walk along the water. But mixing things up with dunes is great for the quads and glutes. Scale Tower Hill at Warren Dunes a few times and you’ll have your heart rate at bootcamp levels. When you’re ready to cool down, yoga is the way to go – dig your feet into the sand during Warriors and other poses and you’ll have traction better than the best yoga mat.

On/In the Water
Whether it’s the lake, a pond, or a swimming pool, water is gentle on joints and offers natural effective resistance. And don’t be deluded: you don’t even have to swim! Water walk in 3-foot waves and you’re getting strength training as well as balance and stability. Squatting or lunging in water is a great alternative for folks who can’t do those exercises comfortably on land. And if you’ve got a kayak or canoe, you’ve got a great way to work your back. Easy-to-rent paddle boards target the core nicely.

Your Own Backyard
Fill a few gallon jugs with water and you’ve got some kettlebells, or use garage junk to make an obstacle course. Make your regular yard work aerobic by moving quickly, or circling the house at a jog periodically. Wash your car at breakneck speed or simply get to it with traditional body weight exercises.

Playgrounds and Parks
Not just play space for kids, playgrounds are filled with exercise potential. Warm-up by swinging for a few minutes. Park benches are great for step-ups or modified push-ups – put your hands on the bench while keeping your feet on the ground. And if you haven’t tried the monkey bars lately, it’s likely you won’t be able to get across your first time. They’re seriously difficult for grown-ups. Don’t pick your feet up all the way but use your arms as much as you can if you need an assist. And use the same bars or find a solid low-hanging tree branch for pull-ups or hangs.

With Your Child/Dog
Children and animals have a lot in common; they know how to move. Let one of these fireballs lead the way. Ball, tag, chase – let yourself go with it, and just try to keep up. Sync up with the hard-wired playfulness of these great beings and the workout becomes second nature. Younger children can be carried on backs, “relay raced” between grown-ups and older kids, become scorekeepers with pebble counters, or mark finish lines with outstretched arms.


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