Your gym could be closed, and if you’re anything like me, you hate working out inside at home. What the heck are you supposed to do?
The fall air presents a unique opportunity to get outside for a comfortable muscle-strengthening workout. It’s not too hot or too cold, and the backdrop of colorful leaves provides an excellent atmosphere for an outdoor exercise.
Something I like to call “active hiking” may be able to help you stay healthy this season. It might involve getting out of your comfort zone, but it can offer some benefits. It can help you work on cardio, strength, and balance all at once.
So, how do you do it?
Find some terrain that’s a bit more challenging and really focus on contracting your muscles. So, let’s say you’re moving through a trail, and you spot a big rock or tree trunk down just off the path. Walk over to it and use it as a tool.
First, see if you can step up on it. Place your right foot at the top of the surface and really dig in with your heel. Focus on a hard contraction in your thigh muscles (hamstring and quadriceps) to push your body to the top of the trunk.
This is essential: do not use momentum to propel you upwards. Concentrate on squeezing the muscles involved in the movement; that’s how you build strength. Step down and go up with the other foot. Hit 8-10 reps (or more) with each leg, using slow and controlled motion.
Next, you can use the surface to perform modified pushups. Place your hands on top, angling your body towards it. Your hands should be in line with your chest. Then lower your body, hold for a moment, and contract your chest muscles to push you back up.
Think of the feeling/form of using a countertop to perform a vertical push up.
When you’ve done your pushups, look for a tree branch or rock that you could use to perform back rows.
As you get stronger and more comfortable hiking, you can look to more challenging terrain. Walking uphill, for example, can also help with balance and core strength.
Because this is outdoor activity, you will need some equipment. A pair of hiking boots with good traction is essential. You’ll also want a small backpack that can hold any layers of clothing you need to remove while exercising.
Any outdoor area nearby will work out. Take advantage of the season as winter closes in!