A Guide to Outdoor Fitness for City-Dwellers

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Exercising outdoors when living in a city can be more of a challenge. Generally, your best bet will be to find a park close by. Most of them have running/walking/biking paths to make your workouts less stressful.

To find a place close to you, go online to your city’s website and search out parks and recreation. If you are new to a city, you might have a place close to you and not know it. While on the website, be sure to note the hours the trails and paths are open, amenities available and if they offer exercise classes or not.

If your park doesn’t have trails or paths to run on, run to the park and when there, opt for other types of exercise such as yoga, tricep dips on a park bench, squats, lunges and other exercises using just your body weight. As a cool down, walk/jog back home.

If you can’t locate a park close to you, see if you can find a residential neighborhood where you can walk or run. Not only will there be less traffic, but it most likely will be quieter and have better scenery, especially if it happens to be a historic place.

When running on city sidewalks, don’t stop running at the red lights. Jog in place, do some vertical push-up against the stoplight pole … anything to keep moving while waiting for a walk light. To add some intensity to your training, run as fast as you can from one stoplight to the next. A type of HIIT, if you will.

As far as safety, trust your instinct. If it doesn’t “feel” right, it most likely isn’t. Always carry a cell phone, ID and some money – just enough to cover you in case of an emergency. Oh … and never run in isolated places by yourself or in the dark. If you have a friend, see if that person wants to run with you. There is safety in numbers and it gives you someone to talk to.

When snow or ice covers your running area, it may be time to find an indoor facility. Join a gym or fitness center and take your workouts indoors during inclement weather. Not only will it give you a change of pace but will also reduce your risk of suffering an injury from slipping on the ice or snow.

Just because you live in a city doesn’t mean you can’t exercise outdoors; you just may have to adapt your training routine to your city environment.

6 Top Fitness Accessories for Exercising Outdoors

Exercising outdoors is so much more fun than being stuck indoors. Once the weather gets nice, take your sport outdoors. Three of the top outdoor fitness activities are:

• Running/Walking
• Swimming
• Biking

Let’s talk about some accessories for these outdoor fitness activities that not only make the sport more enjoyable, but also help increase your fitness level.

Fitness Activity Monitors/GPS Watch

For runners and walkers, fitness activity monitors are great tools to help train you in your sport. By keeping track of time, distance, heart rate and even sleep, statistically you’ll know where you are at now so you can better plan how to get to your goal in the future. FitBit is one company that has several models of activity monitors available. As the features in each model increase, so does the price, but you are sure to find one that fits your needs. Prices start as low as $60 for the Zip all the way up to $250 for the Surge.

One of the latest technology gadgets are GPS watches. The leader in GPS technology Garmin makes a couple of different models. By using data collected from your body, such as heart rate, running speed and other data, the GPS watch can predict your VO2max (the amount of oxygen you consume) which in turn is used to assess your fitness level. It can also predict how fast you’ll run/walk over certain distance. Prices start at $250.

Kickboards/Aqua Barbells

Swimming is a great low-impact full-body outdoor sport. But what if you just want to work your lower body?  A kickboard is the answer.  Its name doesn’t do it justice as you hang on to it with your hands while propelling yourself forward by kicking your feet.

How about if you just want to work your upper body? Aqua barbells are the answer. They are just like regular barbells except they are not heavy. The resistance and exercise comes from moving them up and down or sideways in the water while doing regular dumbell moves. The company Speedo (among other companies) makes both aqua accessories. Each costs less than $15.00.

Touchscreen Gloves/ Mesh Reflective Vests

Many cyclers use apps on their smartphones. With it mounted in a holder on the handlebars, it is easy to use, except if it is cold out and you have to wear gloves. But some companies such as Sportown have developed gloves made out of a material that allows you to use touchscreen devices while wearing them. They cost about $16.00 per pair on Amazon.com.

Visibility is important when biking – even in broad daylight. But many of the reflective garments on the market today don’t breathe well when out in warmer weather. If you are in the market for a new reflective vest, look for one made out of breathable mesh so sweat doesn’t gather under them as it can with other vests made out of non-mesh material. Amazon.com has some for $25.00 that also include two reflective wrist bands for even more visibility.

The fitness accessories mentioned in this article will make your outdoor activity even more enjoyable without breaking the bank.

Easy Ways to Increase the Amount of Walking You Do

Okay, no more excuses! You know you should be walking more. You have heard about the deadly dangers of simply sitting. So why don’t you walk enough? The reasons are many.

Technology, laziness, busy schedules and a number of other causes have led to a very sedentary society. You understand the wonderful heart and overall health benefits of walking. So start practicing the following 5 tips to keep you on the move and you will find yourself walking your way to a healthier lifestyle.

Get Your Desire Involved

Do this. Find a picture of yourself when you were in great shape. If you don’t have such a picture, locate a picture of someone who looks like you want to look. Keep that picture with you at all times, referring to it often when you catch yourself not walking enough. Every time you look at that picture, tell yourself that is the way you want to look. This can easily keep you motivated and walking your way to the weight and shape you desire.

Keep a Log

You have probably heard about the “10,000 steps a day” path to better health. One easy way to find out if you are walking enough is to actually keep track of that information. Log how much time you spend walking each day, each week and each month. Consistently push yourself to increase those daily, weekly and monthly totals.

Ditch the Car for Short Trips

This is a no-brainer way to walk more and become healthier. Walking instead of driving also delivers the added bonus of fresh air and sunshine, getting you out in nature. Whenever you can, stash the car keys and walk to your destination instead of driving.

Join a Club of Like-Minded People

When you are sitting on your couch or computer chair complaining about your level of fitness, you don’t accomplish much. However, when you hang out with other people that are also trying to walk more and get in shape, it is suddenly easier to get up and get moving. Join a hiking or walking club and you may experience the added benefit of meeting some wonderful new friends.

Pull the Plug

Try this, I promise it won’t kill you. Pull the plug on your television set. Cancel your cable or satellite subscription. People spend entirely too much time staring at their televisions. Time is not guaranteed to anyone. Do you really want to spend yours voluntarily turning your brain to mush when you could be out walking, exercising and enjoying a fit and healthy lifestyle?

Buy a Pedometer or Fitness Tracker

There are excellent fitness tracking consumer electronics devices and pedometers that record how many steps you take each day. They require absolutely no work on your part, other than actually walking. They automatically adjust for normal movement and deliver pretty accurate results. If you want to walk more, you need to know how much you are walking now, and a pedometer is great for this.

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