This is one of the BEST times of the year. Spring is officially here, fellas.
The days are longer and when that sun comes out we are finally getting into double digits temp wise. All those hours of darkness, workouts inside crowded gyms, and multi layers of clothes can be a thing of the past (for the foreseeable future, at least), and it’s always really exciting to switch up the routine and venture out of the cocoon.
If you follow my fitness tips and ideas you will know I’m a big fan of getting outdoors and using our rejuvenated energy wisely. Let’s face it: there is nothing better than banging some shorts on, taking in some fresh air and still getting to get that daily exercise in.
With this column I thought I’d give you a gentle reminder/nudge as to what outdoor activities may work for you. The list is endless, but below are the simple, accessible and beneficial activities I strongly recommend you implement into your weekly routine.
It’s also really good to remember when going out to exercise for lengthy amounts of time that you keep fluids with you – and where possible snacks. Personally for me, this is when peanut butter comes into play. For taste, energy and nutrients, opt for peanut butter over energy bars and sugary drinks. An example of an energy boost is some Whole Earth Peanut Butter with sliced apple and banana.
There are a lot of peanut butters on the market, but I suggest this brand for its quality ingredients and taste. The fact the company only use sustainable palm oil also means its a doesn’t have any affect on the environment which is big plus for me. A table spoon is plenty and will do wonders for you in order to keep you going. There are great recipes on their website and more about the brand/products which I think you should check out….
Back to the topic in conversation: Tthe outdoor activities….
Do not underestimate the benefits of a good old fashioned walk. Now it may not be the most intense way to burn the calories, but trust me when I say a good 40 minute walk will help with your cardiovascular endurance. You don’t have to be mega fit and you can do it as part of a daily activity without even thinking of it as exercise.
As we walk we actually weight-bear which means it is good for our bone health. If you walk everyday (i.e. to the station, the dog etc) you will be helping fend off heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Without realising the heart rate is increased, circulation can improve and it’s a pleasant way to clear the head, move, and keep good mobility. Now you may not be doing it to ‘lose weight’ or reach your ‘personal best’ in fitness levels, but every little helps. Also, if the sun is shining the vitamin D on your body will do wonders for you.
I’m a big fan of jogging for numerous reasons. Firstly, it’s great for improving your overall stamina and fitness endurance. Also it’s great exercise for the heart and lungs as it gets the blood pumping around the body, which is great for circulation. And then there is the added benefit of burning those all important calories.
I tend to jog around 30 minutes twice a week as part of my cardio routine. I like to opt for different terrain and love to challenge myself with the odd hill climb to really work my legs and cardio ability. There are no rules to it. Simply whack on some good trainers, some good music, sunscreen and get off that treadmill and into the park.
In London my favourite spot to run is Hampstead Heath. Set your own pace and start slowly. If you try to go too fast too quickly, or too long distance without preparing, you will ‘run’ the risk of shin splints and tendinitis.
I can’t recommend running enough if you can do it. For me, it clears my mind, lifts my mood, and weirdly I always have a story to share from something I’ve witnessed on a run, which is quite funny. You will be surprised at the amount of calories you can burn in a steady paced jog, and it’s a great way to get your aerobic exercise in.
Do get a good pair of trainers which can absorb the shock on your joints from hard surfaces. Run Forest Run…
If you don’t own a bike as of now, it’s time to get online and find a cheap and cheerful one ready for the summer. Not only is cycling an excellent cardiovascular exercise, it’s the perfect way to get out the gym and start exploring your surroundings. You will be surprised how many new parks, paths and trails that surround you without realising.
While running tends to target the hamstrings (the muscles in the back of your thighs), cycling uses the quadriceps (the muscles on the front of the thighs). So not only are you getting some serious leg work in, you are exploring and working on your cardio exercise.
Sundays are a great day for a bike ride. Get on mapping, find a nice restaurant a few miles away and make that your destination to cycle to. This means if you fancy that roast you will have no choice but to burn it off cycling home. Winner winner chicken dinner…
One thing you must make sure when using a bike is your safety. Helmets are a must and it’s also vital that the bike is fitted to your body; otherwise, you’ll put too much stress on your back or knees.
I find bike riding or ‘cycling’ a lot of fun and is always nice to do with friends or a partner. Not only can it move you quicker than running, it works different muscles. It’s the perfect addition to the other fitness you do over the course of the week. Grab that helmet and go!
Gone is the excuse it’s too cold to get in the water. Man up please. Swimming is a fantastic cardiovascular conditioner that also helps tones arms and legs, and it’s very easy on the joints, which is perfect if the majority of your fitness is weight bearing, weight lifting etc.
Swimming is a great stress-buster, calorie-burner and great for keeping blood pressure at bay. Getting in the pool is a refreshing way to get your exercise in and of course you can vary the intensity as you go.
I like to do 20 lengths once every few weeks in a 20m pool to stretch my body, get some cardio in and just have a change of scenery. This is the perfect time to gage how those swimming shorts fit ahead of those holidays and parties. Grab your goggles and jump right in.
Now we may not be in the Hollywood Hills, but hiking is seriously good for you. Not only a great leg workout, it also has its cardio benefits. Uneven surfaces and hills mixed with fresh air, birds singing and endless sky – it’s a very relaxing way to spend your time in a healthily.
I can’t say I do it very often, but there are some great country parks that offer a ‘trek’/’hike’ experience and after an hour or two I am usually starving and quite tired. This shows me how much the body is working due to my activity.
You don’t need to go crazy and buy equipment as if you are trekking Mongolia. Simply a good pair of boots, a good back pack with essentials in (snacks, water, sunscreen etc) and you are good to go.
So whatever you choose, get out, embrace the weather, the environment and this wonderful time of year!
You can follow Charlie on Twitter @CharlieKing85.