Spring is in the air, and that means it’s time to get outside and get your heart-rate up with some classic cardiovascular exercising. We think the following methods of movement in the sunshine will be a breath of fresh air for your fitness routine and will be fun too. (Don’t forget to hydrate and wear sunscreen while you’re out there.)
1. Find some stairs.
Have you ever gone to a high school football stadium or a college campus and tried running, jogging or just walking up and down the stairs? It is no joke! You can do straight up and down jogging, or even try alternating walking up the stairs, then running down them and repeating the combination in reverse. What about taking two steps at a time? That will work the backside too, and there’s no doubt your heart-rate will be elevated and you’ll be improving your cardiovascular condition at the same time. Once you get your footing, try to keep your face up and forward with only your eyes watching your feet, so you don’t strain your neck while looking down. (But always be cautious and careful!)
2. Swim in a public pool or in the ocean.
Swimming is a full-body workout that builds coordination and strength, yet also has a huge cardiovascular element and doesn’t require any impact on your joints at all. In order to turn a swim into an exercise session, you don’t have to just do lap after boring lap, you can also try treading water at intervals or jogging in place in the shallow-end of the pool. If you’re in a public pool, make sure you stay in your lane. If you’re in an ocean or lake, check the signs to be certain swimming is allowed, and bring a friend with you for safety too. And even if you don’t feel thirsty, swimming is still exercise, so hydrate both before and after.
3. Bike around town.
Spring is the perfect time to saddle up and use the bicycle that was collecting dust all winter in your garage. Riding a bike is a no-impact method of cardio exercise, which doesn’t put any undue stress on your joints. However, in order to turn your next biking adventure into a valuable cardio workout and not just a leisure ride, you’ll need to turn up the resistance on your bike and/or turn up the speed, as well as the incline of where you choose to ride — bonus points for finding some moderate hills that will have you working hard in no time. Make sure you wear a helmet and practice safe bike behavior when you’re in busier areas with cars and pedestrians.
4. Hike a trail or walk a sandy beach.
Nature is made for exercise. The rough terrain and incline of hills, mountains and trails not only work your legs and challenge your coordination, but these elements also get your heart-rate up. Then there’s the sand — a very challenging surface that requires your feet to work extra hard to keep your body stable as you walk, jog or run. This spring, find the best hiking trails in your area and head out there on a weekend morning to get your cardio done in nature. And if you’re lucky enough to have access to a beach, try a power walk in the sand on for size. You’ll be able to enjoy the sea breeze while huffing and puffing as the waves come ashore.
5. Play like a kid with jump ropes at the park.
We may not have known as kids that some of our favorite activities would one day be valuable exercise moves to us, but they are. Jumping rope requires coordination, power and athleticism to move the rope, leave the air and maintain a cadence. There are tons of difficult moves (like the double under, in which you actually swing the rope around your body twice while you are in the air), but you can keep it simple with classic jump roping. Wear supportive sneakers, grab a weighted rope and head to a local park with a view to do a 10-15 minute session of jump rope intervals, with breaks in between. To jump rope with proper technique, make sure the movement is coming from your wrists to rotate the rope and make sure that your elbows stay close to your body. Your feet should leave the ground, but no need to bend at the knee and kick your heels up behind you, instead, your toes should point down. Also, keep your chest up and stay focused — it’s tough!
Enjoy the vitamin D of the sunshine and soak up the fresh air! Have fun!