Since I wrote an article for GGS about the benefits of spending more time outdoors, many women have asked the question, “What can I do outside instead of going to the gym?”
Today, I want to share my favorite outdoor training tips that can support your fitness goals and expand your movement boundaries with “out of the box” exercises that you can do outside with minimal equipment.
As a single working mom, finding the time to work out can be frustrating, leaving me with a feeling of failure.
Sticking to a rigid training program that requires specialized equipment and blocked time can raise stress levels instead of adding to our quality of life.
To be totally candid, before I became a mom, my mentality was that if you wanted something bad enough you’d make the time to get it done. Ha! Even as a personal trainer, I struggle with finding the time to commit to a training program. Nowadays, I need more flexibility in my training so that it can fit into my lifestyle.
One strategy I personally use and coach my clients with is what I call “habit-based training.” Just like nutrition, focusing on healthy habits as opposed to sticking to a rigid meal plan, habit-based training is an approach that helps build long-term consistency in your fitness journey.
For example, you can install a pull-up bar to your door frame and hang on it or do a pull-up every time you go past it. Another example is sitting on the ground while working instead of on chairs while frequently changing your seated position. The goal is to look for a variety of movement opportunities throughout your day and still check off your to-do-list.
Katy Bowman, biomechanist, author of Move Your DNA, and creator of Nutritious Movement has a similar approach to movement with #stackyourlife. She recommends integrating movement (fitness) with daily tasks, quality time with family, and outdoor time.
For example, instead of driving to the post office and then driving to the gym to walk on a treadmill, you can walk to the post office with your children. You get a task done while moving your body and spending time with your kids (and they get to move too!) It’s a win-win for everyone!
The goal is to experience more movement throughout your day and increase the overall frequency of your movement time over the course of the week instead of limiting your movement time to only three to five hours in the gym. This can help create a healthy movement habit for more daily movement and help set attainable fitness goals.
If you still get in your structured exercise time, that’s awesome but take some pressure off if you cannot. Life happens and a habit-based training approach allows you to be more flexible and adaptable.
When you let go of the idea that you can only exercise in a gym or with specialized equipment, you’ll begin to view your outdoor environment differently. For example, a sidewalk curb is now a balance beam or a precision landing spot for jumping.
A low sturdy branch becomes a vertical bar that you can hang from, do pull ups with, or climb on. A rock becomes a barbell for deadlifts or even a kettlebell for swings!
Instead of only providing a workout to do outside, I want you to start looking at your natural environment for more movement opportunities.
Just like you want a nutrient-rich diet with lots of variety of healthy foods, you also want a nutrient-rich movement diet. The more you can move with a variety of natural movements throughout the day, the more you will fuel a balanced, strong, and capable functioning body.
Here are six ideas for more nutrient-rich outdoor movement:
Of course, you can create a workout with these movements as well (see examples below), but don’t feel like you must.
If you don’t have the time to do a formal structured workout, that’s OK. Again, the goal is to increase your overall frequency of movement throughout the day and get more Vitamin N. Especially this time of the year when it’s so beautiful outside.
Note: This can be applied to your indoor space as well. Spending more time in nature is highly encouraged, but not always doable depending on weather conditions and time of day. Scan your indoor habitats as well for more movement opportunities like how you are going up and down stairs, using a 2x4 board, installing a bar you can safely hang on, or spending more time on the ground instead of chairs and couches.
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