Mother Nature; best and cheapest to work out

 

pilates

Pilates

Outdoor workouts are a good way of switching up your workout plan. Despite the fact that not everyone enjoys working out, and I believe that outdoor workouts like boot camps and pilates are a great way of engaging both the mind and the body.

Don’t get me wrong, I love weight training and I love the gym, but personally I prefer running outside to running on a treadmill.

There is something about running and working out in nature; nothing but fresh air and challenging terrain that pushes you to your best.

Despite my workouts revolving predominantly at the gym, I personally make it a point to take my body outside once a week for bootcamp style workouts.

Some of the most popular outdoor workouts are Fitness boot camps that incorporate pilates, martial arts and other exercise styles.

boot

Boot camp

Boot camp is a type of group physical training program conducted by fitness and personal trainers that are usually conducted outside in the open or large halls.

These programs are designed to build strength and fitness through a variety of intense group exercises over a 1-3 hour period of time, and can include a variety of workouts like pilates.

Pilates on the other hand is a form of exercise that emphasizes the balanced development of the body through core strength, flexibility and awareness in order to support efficient and graceful movement.

Pilates can be done anywhere and so makes it a perfect addition to boot camp programs.

Both forms of workouts are appropriate for all age groups and also vulnerable groups as the exercises can be tailored to each and every individual and their various abilities.

When put together as one program you get strength training, core workouts and flexibility.

The health and fitness industry is growing in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and the rest of East Africa and people are increasingly turning to outdoor workouts to help them get fit.

Outdoor workout challenges and engages the mind and body from the beginning of the workout till the end; something that indoor workouts and gym based activities cannot do.

Benefits of making outdoor workouts

Outdoor workouts can be intense because you have to tackle more natural elements when working out, thus requiring more concentration and focus.

Engages both body and mind in turn it is psychologically and physiologically beneficial

Boosts mood, lowers tension and stress levels.

Because of the uncontrollable elements of nature the workouts are more intense, For example, running outside is very different from the treadmill because of wind resistance, fluctuating temperatures and uneven terrain.

With outdoor workouts there are NO membership fees and you don’t need any special equipment.

The air is cleaner. According to studies by Environmental organizations it is estimated indoor air is more than twice as polluted as outdoor air.

It is also a good and effective way of getting your free daily dose of Vitamin D through sunlight. This is especially important if you are overweight; a recent study found that people who are overweight are almost twice as likely to be deficient in vitamin D.

Research has shown that outdoor workouts can result in vast improvements in mental well-being, self-esteem and can even help with depression.

Working out in nature exposes you to plants and trees which can improve your immune system. Scientists think that airborne chemicals that plants emit to protect themselves from fungus, bacteria and insects (these chemicals are called phytoncides) may also benefit humans.

Tips on how to have a successful outdoor work out

As much as we all have access to the great outdoors, the first thing to do especially before starting an outdoor fitness program is talking to your doctor or health practioner, especially if you have/have had any illnesses or injuries in the past.

It’s also important to set goals and to have these set goals in mind during your program.

Moreover, start slowly, and work up to them. Remember outdoor exercise can be adapted to anyone’s level of fitness.

Exercise as early as you can. Avoid the excuses; it is easy to give yourself excuses.

Remember in the morning your energy is higher, the air is generally cleaner, the temperature is lower, and you will feel better all day long.

Avoid temperature extremes. Although your body can adapt to colder or warmer weather, you should avoid exercising outside in extreme heat or cold.

Avoid getting burned. Although some sun is good for you, too much sun is not.

Always protect yourself with a good sunscreen, and wear sunglasses and a hat with a brim. This way you want to keep your skin healthy.

Drink enough water. Hydration is key when it comes to any form of workout. Drink about 8 to 10 ounces of water 30 minutes before doing outdoor exercises that should hydrate you sufficiently for a 30-minute workout.

You don’t need water with electrolytes in most cases. Remember that you can lose water through sweating even in cooler weather, and you may start to get dehydrated before you feel thirsty.

Invest in good workout gear. There are a lot of new workout and fitness gear. Take advantage of the new technology that has gone into shoe treads and waterproof, breathable clothing material. It will go a long way into making your workout even more enjoyable.

Make outdoor exercises part of your lifestyle. You can learn exercises that use only body weight and gravity and do them while you are walking to work, the kiosk or just a leisure walk.

Plan outdoor activities with your family and once in a while especial weekends with family and friends go for a hike instead of a drive.

Build muscle, get fit, healthy and lean; you are what you eat

Nutrition is a very important aspect when it comes to fitness and health. What you eat before, after and throughout the day is what will determine if you will see the results you would like as fast as you would like.

Feeding your body before and after a workout is essential for burning the most calories, staying energised, building lean muscle and speeding up recovery.

Here are a few pre-workout meals that I use myself before my workouts, depending on what time I am working out, that keep me energized throughout my workout.

As a general rule great pre-works contain complex carbohydrates and some proteins;½ cup of brown rice ½ cup of black beans, small sweet potato with broccoli, Banana with organic almond butter or organic peanut butter, ½ Cup of oatmeal with berries, an apple & ¼ cup of walnuts or organic peanut butter.

The author is a Fitness Trainer/Nutritionist based in Nairobi, Kenya.

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