Get Out and Get Fit
Ditch the gym and make the most of the season, with outdoor
activities that may just bring out the best in you
UNLESS YOU'RE LUCKY ENOUGH to live in a perpetually
balmy climate (or are one of the fearless few who will brave the
elements no matter what), you undoubtedly had more than your share
of indoor workouts in the past few months. But with summer in full
swing, that's all behind us-it's time to break free of the confines
of the gym and start working out in the great outdoors.
Explore the Area
Plenty of cities and towns have nearby parks and recreation
areas that offer bike paths, walking/ hiking paths or other
opportunities for outdoor exercise. "Look at your environment and
determine what kinds of activities you can do," says Walt Thompson,
Ph.D., a spokesman for the American College of Sports Medicine
Some parks even have workout equipment for doing exercises like
pull-ups and step-ups, says Pete McCall, an exercise physiologist
and spokesman for the American Council on Exercise (ACE). If the
park in your neighborhood isn't fully equipped, he suggests getting
"As long as there aren't any kids on it, use the jungle gym to
do various exercises like pull-ups," he explains. "Just climbing
around on a jungle gym is good exercise."
Speaking of acting like a kid, don't overlook the resources at
local schools, especially when they're not being used over the
summer. "Run up and down the bleachers while humming the theme from
Rocky in your head," McCall says.
If you have even a small yard, you can create your own outdoor
gym. A medicine ball, some exercise bands and a jump rope are all
you need to put you through the paces of a good, all around workout
(check out acefitness.org for exercise ideas). You can
also bring your yoga mat outside and strike a pose-or practice your
And don't forget that yard work can be good exercise, too. "My
riding mower conked out last year," Thompson says. "I decided to
use my push mower instead-and when I realized how much exercise I
was getting I put off fixing my riding mower."
Go Beyond the Basics
Many warm-weather favorites-such as biking, swimming and
tennis-provide a great workout. But you can also find ways to get
more out of other kinds of summer fun. If you enjoy golfing, for
example, skip the cart and walk briskly from hole to hole. If
you're up for it, carry your own clubs. To get an even better
upper-body workout on the links, be a bad golfer. "You'll have to
swing your club that many more times," Thompson explains. Extra
putting practice would do the trick, too.
Or how about a nice sailboat ride? While it doesn't count if
you're just lounging on the deck, actually participating in sailing
the boat is vigorous exercise.
If walking is your thing, look for places along your route to
stop and do some body-weight exercises, McCall suggests. "Use a
ledge or bench for step-ups, or do some push-ups in the park," he
says. It's just like circuit training, but you don't have to be
stuck in the gym.
As you enjoy the best weather of the year, you're sure to find
plenty of other opportunities for physical activity, from planting
flowers to washing your car- it all adds up.
Most important, don't waste a moment of the season. "I urge
everyone to take advantage of the good weather," Thompson says,
"because the bad weather is going to be here before you know
-By Amy Lynn Smith