Working Out in the Great Outdoors

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by Kelsey Emmanuel

I love to be outside and soak up as much vitamin D as possible during the Michigan summer months. When it is warmer weather season, I get creative with my workouts because it is a great way to keep fitness fun. Staying healthy and active doesn’t mean you need to do an intense gym workout every day. It is important to have variety, change up your fitness routine and have fun with it! Here are three ways you can spice up your fitness fun using the great outdoors. 

Take Your Home Workouts Outside

A great way to wake up and start your day is by filling up your lungs with fresh morning air. If you have a porch or backyard, take your fitness equipment (resistance bands, free weights, yoga mats, medicine balls. etc.) and do a workout outside. If you don’t have fitness equipment at home, no problem— grab a sturdy chair and a bag of flour or dog food, and you are ready to go. You can use a sturdy chair for tricep dips, elevated planks and push-ups. You can use a dog food bag for squats, deadlifts, arm presses. Utilizing these different pieces of equipment is an easy way to increase the intensity of your workouts. 

Add Variety to Your Jog/Walk 

Everyday outdoor objects can be added to your workouts. Benches can provide multiple uses: Take a jogging break by doing lateral step-ups, split squats, elevated bridges, tricep dips and push-ups on a bench. Trees come in handy if you want to squeeze in a couple of wall sits. When hiking or jogging in the outdoors, you can also break up your activity by doing simple bodyweight movements, such as squats, lunges, high knees, side shuffles and donkey kicks. 

Utilizing Nature 

While appreciating the beautiful outdoors, we can use its complex terrain for physical activity. National parks, neighborhood trails, nearby parks, the Great Lakes — you name it! In the state of Michigan, we are so lucky to have miles and miles worth of nature trails and gorgeous scenery. No treadmill or elliptical can beat a nice hike or jog through fresh, nature trails. Plan a weekend adventure to the lake, go hiking through dunes, go swimming, biking and play Spikeball. You can make a whole adventure out of your physical activity. Have a picnic with the family and bring a frisbee, football, volleyball and your pets! 

Exercising outside on various terrain promotes “muscle confusion” which can help your body build different muscles, burn more calories and prevent injuries. Muscle confusion is a concept that is centered around having variation in your workouts and helps you avoid hitting plateaus. Working out outside can also help clear your mind, reduce stress, decrease tension and anger, lessen symptoms of depression and improve your overall health. While we still have a couple of beautiful months left of summer, I challenge you to take advantage of the outdoors, schedule weekly adventures into your planner, and make this summer of 2019 one to remember. 

“Exercising outside on various terrain promotes ‘muscle confusion’ which can help your body build different muscles, burn more calories and prevent injuries.


Kelsey Emmanuel is a certified CrossFit Level 1 trainer. Follow along with her workout tips and tutorials on Instagram @kelsey.emmanuel and on Facebook at Kelsey’s Health Journey.

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