Staying Motivated to Move: Take It Outside!

by Marsha Hudnall

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Exercise tips for staying fit | How to stay motivated with your exercise programDo you you ever get home from work and decide you don’t want to go to the gym?

Sometimes it’s hard to get yourself into the gym because there is no intrinsic motivation to do it.

Becoming bored with cardio on the treadmill or weight machines is very common. Just because you are bored with your exercise, however, does not mean to stop exercising. It means looking for a different exercise, something that suits you, that you enjoy.

Here’s one way to mix things up: Take it outside! The bonus is that research now that shows that working out outside is more likely to boost moods. It also shows that people who work out outside are less likely to experience depression, seasonal affective disorder and illnesses. What’s more, research shows there is 75% less pollutants outside then there is inside. So you will actually be cutting your respiratory system some slack by working out outdoors!

The fresh air, trees and plants have an intense effect on our health and well being. It has also been said that using the outdoor environment is one of the best workouts that you can do for your body.

  • Exposure to nature reduces stress-related anger and enhances sociability. At the University of Queensland in Australia, they found that “regular outdoor runners were less anxious and depressed than people who ran indoors on a treadmill and they had higher levels of post exercise endorphins. Endorphins are the feel good brain chemicals that some people call a “runners high”.

Following is a list all different outdoor activities you can do, some safety cues on hydration and what you should bring with you.

  • For spring time, the amount of exercising outdoors you can do is limitless. The weather, depending on where you live, is just right and perfect for lots of activity! Be sure when you go out for activity to bring lots of water. And remember that just because you do not “feel” thirsty, your body probably is in need of fluids. By the time the message is sent to the brain that you need water you are already dehydrated. So staying on top of your fluids is the main important thing especially when the temperatures are higher.
  • Spring and summer activities outside are usually similar. But in summer hydration is extremely important. Heat exhaustion is very common in the summer months so being aware of signs and symptoms of this is very important. Another good idea is to wet a bandana, then put it in the freezer. When you go out for your run, wrap it around your neck to keep yourself cool.
  • Some activities for spring and summer are running, walking, biking, mountain biking, trail running, swimming and kayaking. The activities are limitless!

A lot of these same activities can be done in the fall before it gets too cold. Get outside, soak in your surroundings look at the beautiful changing leaves and lift your spirits. Some areas even provide outdoor yoga, outdoor Pilates and outdoor boot camps. There are several places to go walking anywhere you go, you can stay in your own neighborhood or check out some local trails or paths near your house.

The internet has tons of information on different walking and hiking trails.Prevention magazine has a website that shows the top 25 walking cities. Some provide classes that take people out for running photography. So as they are running they are also taking photographs.

For those who enjoy taking on more than one thing at one time this may be for you! Research has shown that dog owners are more active than non dog owners. This is due to the fact that they have to take their dogs outside for exercise. So if you have a dog, find some pet-friendly parks with walking trails. I am sure your furry friend will appreciate the exercise also! It can also be helpful to have an exercise buddy.

People are more likely to go and exercise if they have company. They are also more likely to go because they will be getting extrinsic motivation from their friend.

You could mix up cardio and strength training by doing some intervals. Go for a run or a walk and do short bursts of cardio followed by a strength exercise. Some strength training exercises you can do at a local park are triceps dips on a park bench, lunges, squats, calf raises, crab walks, pushups, any abdominal exercises such as planks, pelvic tilts, and bicycle crunches.

Basically anything you do indoors you can be doing outdoors.

In the winter months things can get a little bit difficult. There is less sunlight causing us to not want to be outside. You want to stay inside of the house with the heater on instead of enduring the cold weather. You can into the routine of possibly going to the gym but skipping it because it is not very much fun anymore.

A very common people experience during the winter months is Seasonal Affective Disorder due to the lack of warmth and sunlight. But you can still prevent this from happening by going outside. So bundle up and get your best walking shoes on! Some activities that you can participate in the winter if you have snow are skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, and cross country skiing.

Even just getting outside to make a snowman you can burn some calories.If you do not have any snow but it is still cold outside, there are still some outdoor activities you can do. They still have some outdoor boot camps that are run through the winter. You can also buy traction devices for your tennis shoes that will help on snow and ice.

Now you know all of the awesome reasons why you should get outdoors and workout. And remember to choose something you enjoy so you will have even more motivation to get your body moving. So keep on trying different activities and find one you love or just switch up the activities every few weeks to keep things new and exciting. So get outside smell the fresh air and get moving!

This article was written by Jessica McMillan, fitness intern at Green Mountain Winter 2011. Thanks, Jessica!

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