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Taking It Outdoors Adds More Enjoyment to Your Workout

By Danielle Honnette, YWCA of Minneapolis Personal Trainer
March 23, 2012
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One of the toughest things about exercise can be finding the motivation to get our body moving. Sometimes thinking about the results is enough to get us to roll off the couch. Then there’s the bargaining approach — allowing ourselves something in exchange for exercising — which can be effective at times. Sometimes, it’s simply encouraging ourselves to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Then, there are those blissful few times in which the stars align and we simply enjoy it.

Yes, I said “enjoy.” Exercise should be fun! Our bodies were made to move and to do extraordinary things. Our finely tuned and intricately balanced machine functions a million times better when we move it on a consistent basis. There will be days when we need motivation to turn off the TV or the computer, but how can we turn those blissful few times into a regular habit? Mixing in just enough variety to your exercise routine is the key to both challenging your body and to keeping exercise new and exciting. One of the easiest ways to add some variety to a routine is to take it outdoors.

Walk away from the treadmill or track to one of the many trails that our great city has to offer. Not only will this change the scenery, but you’ll be challenging the little muscles in your ankles and lower legs as they adjust to new footings. Love your cycling class? Take your bike for a real spin outside. You’ll feel the breeze on your face and engage a few more muscles to keep you balanced on that bike while it’s actually moving along the pavement. You could get a strength workout in your backyard or in a local park using body weight exercises.

Even in winter, you can bundle up and try something new: rent a pair of skis or snowshoes, and go exploring. Find your inner child and make a snowman or snow fort. Or perhaps it’s a weekend trip of snowboarding on one of the local hills. Regardless of the season, the great outdoors are always there, beckoning us to come out and play. According to a study published in February 2011 edition of Environmental Science and Technology, exercising in a natural outdoor environment was associated with greater feelings of revitalization and increased energy, and subjects reported greater enjoyment and satisfaction with outdoor activity compared to those experienced indoors.

Exercising outdoors just once a week — or more — can help break up some of the boredom and routine, and draw out the enjoyment that exercise should bring. I challenge you to venture out that front door, whether you take your current routine outdoors or are trying a new one altogether. The possibilities are endless.

Want some help with your motivation? YWCA  Minneapolis offers a variety of Private and Semi-Private Personal Training plans.