Friday, February 28, 2014

Warm Weather Workouts

   Warmer weather is coming! ...Eventually. This has been a pretty brutal winter; cold, windy, lots of snow, rain, and ice. But spring will prevail, I promise! So get those walking shoes ready. Exercising outdoors has a lot of benefits; you get natural Vitamin D, it has been proven to boost your mood, and it's cardio! Let's be honest, the gym can become boring and stuffy. Spring is the perfect time to revamp your workout and add some outdoor hours to your weekly routine.
   Things to do outside: walk, jog, run, hike, hit the playground, go exploring. All of it is free, and all of it is good for you. Nothing says you have to stay in your neighborhood or hit the closest track; go to a local park or beach, hit the trails, or even go downtown. I love warmer weather, because I can walk a mile before I start my day to boost my mood, torch some calories, and it doesn't take a long time but kickstarts my metabolism. Last spring I downloaded the Nike + running app and made a plan. I took a before picture, curious if walking was actually an effective way to lose weight; it definitely was! Not only did I love the app and wanted to push myself harder, I could see my progress not only in my physique but on the app as well. I could set goals such as walk 10 miles in 1 week, drop my mile time by a minute, etc.
   See for yourself that walking and jogging can make a difference... I lost around 5 pounds and 10 inches, everything tightened up and I felt great. I'm generally a healthy eater, but during this particular semester I was barely making it into the gym due to my school and work schedule. I suck at running, but I really enjoy interval training that switches between a fast walk and a jog. My average mile time for just walking is around 13 minutes.
Before and After picture: Just one month of walking!

   I'm a walk-jog fiend; I'll go for a walk first thing in the morning to warm up all my muscles and my metabolism and really get a wake up the way I like to (with fresh air and a sunrise and a few moments to myself) and usually again after dinner. I don't recommend jogging or running after dinner because then you're asking for a cramp, but a leisurely stroll is actually good for you and your digestion. Plus, an after dinner walk will help ward off that sluggish feeling you get after a large meal and give you a small energy boost to finish the dishes with! It'll also help you sleep better that night. I still usually couple this with a gym routine, but instead of spending a boring 30 minutes on the treadmill, I can just do a quick warm up and get right to strength training. On cardio only days, I'll usually go for a longer than average walk-jog or I'll try and explore a new place; different environments have different benefits.
    Walking on the beach (I prefer barefoot) works different muscles than walking on the road, or hiking in the woods. Switching up the scenery will also keep it fun and force yourself to push yourself farther. If you're going to be out while it's dark be sure to wear clothes that early morning commuters can see! Always have your cell phone but keep music low so you can hear what's going on around you. Stick to places you know are safe, and always let someone know where you are if you're going out alone. The great thing about exercising outdoors though is your whole family can join you... and I highly recommend that! If you have younger children, utilize the park and it's a win win. You can do sit to stands on benches, use those shoulders and do the monkey bars, but also hop on the swings and remember what it was like to be carefree. Mental health is an important as physical health. Afraid you will look ridiculous? Who cares!Get out there and do what's best for you!

Love the Burn!

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