Tips for Creating a Great Outdoor Gym

We all know how important regular exercise for maintaining great overall health, and there are a lot of fantastic methods and options for getting that daily workout in, such as using your surroundings as a natural outdoor gym. EHE’s Dr. Seema Sarin notes that “physical inactivity is a major health problem worldwide.” Studies show that people who exercise regularly enjoy better cardiovascular health and increased life expectancy compared to those that don’t. Dr. Sarin recommends committing to a goal of at least 150 minutes, two and a half hours, of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. If you don’t think you have that kind of time on your hands 75 minutes or one and a half hours of vigorous intensity exercise per week is even better, and suitable for most people.

How do you know if you’re exercising with enough intensity to yield these great benefits

Dr. Sarin says, “breathlessness, fatigue, and sweating — so that’s when you know you’re doing a good job with exercise.” Dr. Sarin also notes that all exercise is not the same. Some exercises are better for you than others. For example, studies show that the lack of air resistance in a gym results in burning less energy than an outdoor run of the same distance. This is not to dissuade you from joining a gym or buying a treadmill. Everyone has their personal preferences and if that leads you to exercise in one form or another, all the better for you and the future you. Here are some tips from Dr. Sarin for creating simple, but powerful, outdoor gym exercise routines — without a lot of equipment or fuss.

Turn Areas Around Your Home into an Outdoor Gym

Creative use of natural features in your surroundings works great for implementing outdoor gym resistance equipment. Hills make you work harder to get up. Jumping up on a bench and back down will get your heart rate going. Trees can help out when you are working to stretch your legs or arms. The possibilities are endless, use good discretion when interacting with nature. You don’t want to do push-ups or sit-ups in a bed of poison ivy. Be cognizant while in your outdoor gym, and have fun getting that perfect workout.

Turn Your Backyard into an Outdoor Gym

Resistance bands are a great, inexpensive way to add resistance to your workouts. Grab some bands, and do some bicep curls, upright rows, leg lifts, triceps, and shoulder extensions in the park or backyard. Any exercise you’d use free weights for can be done with resistance bands — remember to store them flat in a cool, not-too-dry place, to avoid snapping and breakage.

Outdoor exercise has so many excellent health benefits, like improved mental health, less depression, and anxiety, and increased vitamin D levels, and it promotes excellent overall fitness — so it’s worth experimenting to see which outdoor routines and workouts you like best. Making your own outdoor gym is inexpensive and can be fun to do with the kids.  

Always remember to check in with your doctor before starting any new exercise regimen. Those with specific risk factors like a recent heart attack, for instance, may need further evaluation before embarking on a new exercise routine to make sure they’re exercising safely, according to Dr. Sarin, so when in doubt, make sure to check in with your healthcare provider for guidance.

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