Exercise outside for a bigger calorie burn and mental benefits too
Zesties know that working out in the fresh air, conditions permitting, is a no-brainer as an alternative to sweating it out in the gym.
So make the most of the summer months, with evenings that are longer and lighter - and warmer. Studies show that outdoor exercise can cut levels of depression, tension and anger, while increasing your energy, positivity and feelings of wellbeing.
Time to shelve the gym pass and put on your best trail shoes. Try these five ways to make the most of Mother Nature while you're training:
1. Swap the treadmill for trail running
Apart from the fresh air and sights and sounds of nature as you exercise, trail running is a great exercise option as summer approaches.
You probably burn around 100 calories for every mile you run, but throw in the challenge of more varied terrain on hills and fells and watch your calorie-burn rate soar. The increased amount of air resistance you encounter when running outdoors also helps you to burn more calories than you would in the gym.
Be aware that you may come across some wet ground and bogs, so make sure your footwear can cope with the great outdoors. Classic road shoes won't do because they focus on cushioning and stride, whereas trail shoes need more traction, agility and protection. Try the new Salomon XR Crossmax, which combines the features of both.
Another good investment is a specialist trail running shoe such as Hi-Tec's V-Lite Infinity to keep your feet drier than regular trainers.
Click here for more about trail running.
2. Swap weights for wood
Lifting weights should be an essential part of your tone-up workout, but unless you really want to bulk up big-time the weight can come from near enough anywhere - a tin of baked beans or a bottle of water if you're at home, or a small log while you're out and about. Your routine should incorporate exercises that work all the muscle groups and you should try and do eight to 12 repetitions of each. Check out our at home fitness channel for ideas.
You'll know that you're using the right weight for you if your last rep is hard work.
If you do choose to use logs as weights there is the risk, albeit small, of getting a nasty splinter, so get hold of some gym gloves to protect your hands.
3. Swap the exercise bike for a real bike
As with running, you will encounter much more challenging terrain when cycling in the great outdoors, making for a more effective exercise session. An hour of cycling at a moderate pace (between 12 and 14 mph) will help you burn about 600 calories. That, and being out in the fresh air should be enough to lift your mood.
A 2006 study found that 63% of fitness equipment at gyms carried traces of rhinovirus, the germ that causes the common cold, so cycling outdoors is one more way to stay healthy. Now the weather's better and the evenings are lighter, cycling to the shops or a friend's house are both more appealing and a good way of saving money on fuel or public transport. Exercise and cash in your pocket - what's not to like?
5. Other ways to work out naturally...
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