Let’s face it, winter sometimes means exercise is primarily an indoor activity (it’s cold and windy, it gets dark early, there’s a mountain of snow on the sidewalk, etc). Doing the same exercise in the same setting, whether at home or at the gym, does get tiring after a while. If this sounds familiar, it may be time to give your routine a pick-me-up. Not only is it a great way to combat the boredom factor, it’s great for your body too. Adding variety to your workouts keeps your body guessing so you can continue to build strength and endurance. As the weather gets milder, there are plenty of opportunities to mix up your routine with some outdoor exercise.
One of the best outdoor activities is walking. It’s an easy and effective way to exercise, and since there’s no fancy equipment required (aside from a good pair of sneakers) it’s an activity you can do anywhere. You can go for a walk at lunch or stop at the high school on your way home from work and do a couple of laps around the track. There are plenty of great places to walk in Boston, as well as a number of hiking and walking trails in many of the state parks and forests.
Take a pedometer with you to track the number of steps you take—see if you can work up to 10,000 steps a day. Pedometers vary in price and number of functions (some only count steps, while others measure things like distance traveled, calories burned and average speed) and are available online and in department or sporting goods stores (there are even pedometer apps for the iPhone or iPod touch).
Do you usually ride the exercise bike at the gym? Mix it up by going for a bike ride instead. The new scenery will make your ride more interesting, and changes in terrain add a greater degree of difficulty than a stationary bike (and, if you’re looking to reduce your carbon footprint, biking is an environmentally friendly mode of transportation). Don’t have your own bike? The city of Boston recently announced plans to launch a bike share-program this summer. Participants can rent bicycles from kiosks located around the city; so if you live in or near the city, you can still enjoy the benefits of an outdoor bike ride.
Another great benefit to biking (and walking, too) is the ability to bring along a friend. Working out with a buddy can help you stay motivated to stick with your routine, and you both can push each other to work harder. Whatever activity you choose, it’s a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider before starting an exercise program. Also, be sure to monitor your blood sugar and carry a snack or fast acting glucose to treat potential lows.
What are your favorite spring-time exercise activities? Do you garden? Play sports? Run? We’d love to hear your suggestions.