Outdoor Alternatives to Running
Running is great. It improves cardiovascular fitness, helps build bone
density, and it gets you out in the sun, so you can soak up some vitamin D. But there
are times when you might not be able to run. Perhaps you’re dealing with an
injury, or maybe you just want to change things
up. Whatever the case, here are some cardio exercises that you can do outdoors,
in place of running.
There are those who don’t consider walking exercise; those people are
probably doing it wrong. While walking is definitely low-impact, and slower
than running, it is definitely exercise. A 150-pound person can burn
approximately 177 calories during a brisk, 30-minute walk. However, calories aren’t the only issue. Because walking is a weight-bearing
exercise, it can build your bone density, like running. Also, adding stairs and
hills to your walking routine builds your leg muscles, which can increase your
resting metabolism and improves your muscle endurance. Additionally, if you are recovering from an injury, walking is a good way to
ease back into running.
Equipment Needed: A good pair of athletic shoes and comfortable
Cycling is an excellent way to build cardiovascular and muscular endurance.
It also gives you a chance to work your glutes and quads, versus the hamstrings
and calves, which do most of the work during running. Also, because cycling is considered non-weight-bearing, you can also do it
while recovering from a stress fracture, or
similar injury. Some companies have even come up with elliptical
exercise bikes that function like an elliptical trainer in the gym, but can
be ridden outdoors, like a bicycle. These elliptical bikes add an extra dimension to the cycling workout because
you move your arms and feet, which increases your heart rate. The elliptical
bikes are also mildly weight-bearing, which can help
build bone strength.
Equipment: A bicycle, or elliptical bike, a helmet, cycling shoes
(for a standard bicycle).
Hiking is similar to walking, only more intense because it usually involves
a lot of hills and uneven terrain. If you are hiking for long distances, you
may also need to carry supplies, which can add to the weight load.
Hiking strengthens your legs and cardiovascular system and, because it is a
weight-bearing exercise, it builds bone density. Another benefit to hiking is that your surroundings can be very relaxing,
which contributes to your peace of mind. The downside to hiking is that you may have to travel a ways, to find a good
hiking spot, which means it’s not an ideal daily activity. Also, some hiking
areas can be very rugged and wild, so you should always hike with a partner.
Equipment: Hiking boots and backpack (with water, snacks, and
Swimming and Water
|I don’t really swim. I hot tub and do yoga in my bikini.|
Swimming is a great multi-purpose exercise. It conditions the upper body,
the lower body, and the cardiovascular system. If you are recovering from an
injury, you should get in the water. Swimming is not only non-weight-bearing,
it’s anti-weight bearing because the water actually supports your weight.
If you’re not a good swimmer, you can run, walk, or job in water at, or
below, chest level, for cardiovascular exercise. Water aerobics is another
excellent way to get exercise in the water. The difficulty is in finding access to a pool, or a safe, clean body of
water. Also, it’s easy to get dehydrated in the water because you don’t realize
that you’re sweating.
Equipment: Swimsuit, goggles, water shoes (optional), and plenty of