Exercise comes in many forms and fashions. You can subscribe to a gym or fitness studio. However, these can be costly and repetitive. Another approach to being active is exercising outdoors. Take advantage of what your city — big or small — has to offer. Any type of activity you can add to your day is better than nothing.
Path to well being
Listed below are examples of exercise you can do in addition to or in place of going to the gym. Some are free, while others have low costs. Research activities and groups in your city for specific details.
Most city websites list public parks and trails. Check with local parks and conservation groups or the chamber of commerce. Parks are a great place to exercise because they often are quiet and safe. Some have walking and/or running trails, while others may allow biking or have specific bike paths. Many parks also have areas for group sports. These may include basketball courts, tennis courts, baseball fields, or soccer fields.
If you have kids, take them to a playground where you can join in. Play a game of tag or do pull-ups on the monkey bars. If you do not have kids, you can use other equipment. For example, a park bench is a perfect tool for lunges, step-ups, push-ups, toe taps, or tricep dips. Use your imagination or look up park bench exercises online. Try to incorporate movements that use your natural bodyweight. These create resistance without added tools or machines.
There are other options if you do not have access to parks, trails, or playgrounds. Search for schools around you that have running tracks. The scenery may not be as nice, but the surface is easier on your joints. Make sure you go outside of school practice times. You may want to check with the school to make sure it’s available for public use.
You also can exercise right in your own neighborhood. You can do this in a busy city (preferably on streets with sidewalks) or a more rural neighborhood. When you reach a stoplight during your workout, try out some high intensity interval training (HIIT) exercises. Examples are knee-highs, squats, or jumping jacks. Another approach for exercising in heavy stoplight areas is to do sprints. Run as fast as you can until you reach a red light, and then rest until the light turns green. This is a great way to build up stamina.
Different groups and clubs offer fitness classes around the city. You could take yoga in the park or join a running or biking team. These activities can occur on a regular basis or vary based on special events.
If these sound too intimidating, try switching up your commute to work. In bigger cities, you can walk, run, or bike to your job instead of driving or taking public transit. More and more places offer hop-on, hop-off bike rental programs. You also can go on a walk over lunch, or with your kids and/or pets before or after work.
Depending on where you live, the local terrain may be suitable for other activities. These can include:
- skiing or snowboarding
- mountain biking
- kayaking or rowing
- surfing or paddleboarding.
Things to consider
As with all exercise, it is vital to be safe. Follow these tips to prevent harm or injury.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Stay in areas that are well lit and trafficked.
- Follow all road signs and traffic laws. Look where you are going to avoid hurting yourself or others.
- Watch where you step. Trails, sidewalks, and roads can be uneven.
- Avoid exercising outside in the dark.
- Exercise with one or more friends instead of alone.
- Carry your phone, if possible, in case of emergency.
- If you must use headphones, keep the volume on low. Loud music can drown out important noises, such as horns and people behind you.
- Avoid rush hour or high-traffic times.
- Carry water to stay hydrated and towels to keep cool.
- Wear proper sports equipment, such as a bike helmet.
- Avoid weather that is too hot or cold if your body is sensitive to temperature change.
- Plan out rest stops or bathrooms for long workouts.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults should be active for at least 150 minutes each week. As you establish an exercise routine, try to include a variety of workouts. It is important to cross train to work your entire body. Aim to do a mix of activities to maximize your health benefits.
- Aerobics, such as running, biking, or swimming.
- Muscle strengthening, such as climbing or swinging.
- Bone strengthening, such as jumping rope or playing sports.
Questions to ask your doctor
- How much exercise should I get per day or week?
- Is there such a thing as too much exercise?
- Are there any restrictions on being active?
- How can I protect myself while exercising outside?
- What should I do if I get injured while exercising?
Copyright © American Academy of Family Physicians
This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.