What is outdoor fitness?
Outdoor fitness refers to exercise undertaken outside. This could be in a park, in the wilderness or even city streets, so long as you’re not under the cover of a building.
Outdoor fitness doesn’t relate to just one specific type of fitness. In fact, the term could cover anything from a stroll in the park to an arduous mountain hike. It could include equipment such as weights or ropes or it could be a body-weight circuit such as press-ups and squats.
What are the benefits of outdoor fitness?
There are a huge number of benefits to working out outdoors. These include, but are not limited to:
- Increase levels of Vitamin D
- Improved mental health
- Increased activity levels
- Improved sleep
- Improved well-being
What types of outdoor fitness are there?
Walking is a fantastic way to get fit and remain active. In the UK alone there are thousands of walks available. Many are closer than you think and could be right on your doorstep. ‘Walking Britain‘ is a great place to find a local walk near you.
Running is another great way to stay fit outdoors. Many of the walking routes mentioned above also make perfect runs, or you could join a local running club. Most runners (from beginner to advanced) like to keep track of their runs. It’s a really good way to keep track of your runs and measure your improvement. You could download Strava on your smart phone or use a fitness tracking watch such as Garmin.
For a more simple option, just pick a route that you can access easily and time yourself to complete it. You can easily see whether you beat your time on the next occasion you do the same route.
Bootcamps are a form of military fitness. The group environment offers encouragement and motivation. The exercise classes usually utilise all aspects of a local park or common and use a mix of bodyweight exercises, cardiovascular activity and partner exercise to give participants a full-body workout in the great outdoors.
The set timetable means the classes can form part of your weekly routine. This means you’re much more likely to stick with it. The variety means no two classes are the same, and there is the added bonus of socialising before and after the class
- Team Sports
From rugby and football to cricket and volleyball, outdoor team sports are plentiful. Team sports build friendships, engender teamwork and communication and can be as competitive or friendly as desired. Most sports clubs offer entry-level opportunities. If you’ve always wanted to give hockey a go, or you’ve not played netball since school, keep an eye out for open days or taster sessions.
What should I wear to workout outside?
When you workout outside it can be very different to an indoor workout so it’s important to think about what you wear.
Winter workout clothing
When you step out the house it might be cold, but remember you’ll soon warm up once you start moving. So, whilst you need a warm jacket to get to/from your start point, thin layers are usually best beneath.
The ground is more likely to be wet and slippery underfoot. To avoid slipping, ensure you have a good tread on your footwear. Salomon and Inov8 are great options for outdoor footwear and have fully waterproof options available too.
Summer workout clothing
On a hot day you’ll want to wear thin layers and as little as possible. If you’re going to be running a lot then mid-length leggings or long shorts can prevent chaffing. Sunglasses can be tricky to run in unless you have a sport-specific type, so visors or hats are good alternatives.
You may prefer to exercise in the early morning or late evening to avoid the midday heat.
Don’t forget to wear suncream and drink plenty of water (before, during and after exercise)
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What is indoor fitness?
Indoor fitness refers to exercise undertaken inside – usually a gym or fitness centre.
The indoor fitness offering provides routine reliability and means you can workout just about any time of day in any weather conditions. The downside can be a limitation in variety and access to nature’s finest settings.
What types of indoor fitness are there?
All gym’s offer an introduction to first-timers. This is really important if you’ve not used a gym before or for a while. Using gym equipment and machinery incorrectly can result in injury. Once you’re familiar with the equipment you will have access to cardio machines, weights and gym-floor equipment and can build your own routines.
Most gyms also offer classes as part of their package or for an additional fee. These range from yoga and pilates to things like ‘body pump’ and ‘Zumba’. They are a good way to maintain motivation when you’re lacking ideas and inspiration in the gym. If you like the concept of a gym class, but get bored of routines easily then you might prefer an outdoor boot camp class where no two classes are the same. This is due to the variety of locations, weather conditions, instructor and other members.
Indoor team sports
Netball, badminton, 5-aside football, indoor hockey and many more sports can be played within 4 walls. They are often sometimes slightly-altered versions of their outdoor counterpart but retain the teamwork and competitive elements.
If you are able to clear space in front of a screen at home, you can bring the instructor to your living room with workouts across the web.
When is it better to workout indoors?
We prefer to do as much as we can in the great outdoors. The natural environment, fresh air, hit of vitamin D and greater ability to ‘switch off’ mean it just does tick a lot of boxes. However we also believe that all exercise is good exercise and, generally, better than nothing.
We’ve compiled some passable reasons to select indoor workouts over the great outdoors:
If you have particularly bad allergies that make endured lengths of time outdoors uncomfortable, you may find indoor workouts more effective and enjoyable.
If you don’t live near a busy, well-lit route it can be dangerous to walk or run outside alone. If you do so:
– Avoid wearing headphones to ensure you have all your senses about you
– Wear bright-coloured clothing so you can be seen by others.
– Take a mobile phone with you (with full battery) in case you get lost, injured or get into any difficulty.
Another safety issue can be the weather. If it’s wet or icy underfoot be considered in your choice of footwear. Equally if it’s mid-heat wave it’s wise to avoid the midday heat.
If you’re a high-level athlete and need exact measurements on your performance then this is often more easily recorded inside. Additionally, if your sport takes place indoors then it generally makes sense to replicate conditions, particularly during your competition period.
Ultimately some people still prefer to workout inside. If the alternative is to do nothing at all then it definitely makes sense to do your exercise indoors!
Fitness routines to do from home
Outdoor Fitness Workout Routine to do on your own
Before you leave the house, plan a route of a distance that you could comfortably cover jogging or walk/running.
Make sure you have:
– Suitable running clothing
– A bottle of water
– Your house keys and stopwatch or timer (on watch or mobile phone)
Before you do any vigorous activity it’s important to prepare your body.
1. Jog for 5 minutes to warm yourself up and raise your heart rate
2. Spent 20 seconds doing each of the following whilst jogging
– kick your heels to your bottom > kick your feet out in front of you > walk on your toes > walk on your heels
– circle your arms forwards > circle your arms backwards > do a front crawl motion > punch the sky
Each of the following exercises will be done in a 10 > 1 programme. You will do 10 repetitions (reps) of the exercise, followed by a 50 second rest break (5 seconds per rep). After 50 seconds you will do 9 reps with 45 second break etc:
10 reps, 50 sec rest
9 reps, 45 sec rest
8 reps, 40 sec rest
7 reps, 35 sec rest
6 reps, 30 sec rest
5 reps, 25 sec rest
4 reps, 20 sec rest
3 reps, 15 sec rest
2 reps, 10 sec rest
1 rep. DONE!
Run for about 5 minutes or until you find a bench or low wall.
With your hand flat on the bench or wall just behind you, position your feet out in front of you so that you form a triangle shape between your hands, shoulders and ankles. Keeping your body straight, bend your elbows so that your body lowers to the ground (don’t touch the ground) then push yourself back up to the starting position.
If you are finding this too hard, bend your knees and bring your feet closer to you to make it a little easier. You can move your feet forwards again when you progress.
Run for about 5 minutes or until you find another bench or low wall.
On the same bench, step onto the bench and stand up fully. At the top of the movement clench your glutes together before stepping down with the same starting leg. Make sure to alternate starting leg each time. 1 rep = 1 step up on each leg.
Run for 5 minutes, you should be about half way now so if you’re doing an ‘out and back’ loop turn around here.
The same 10 > 1 routine as before, but with press ups this time. If you can’t do a full press up, go onto your knees but make sure you’re keeping your core (tummy through to lower back) tight and straight so that you’d body raises up and down in a straight line rather than your hips dropping as you push your shoulders up .
Run for 5 minutes.
Find some flat ground and position yourself so that your feet are shoulder width apart and ever so slightly turned out.
Lower your body to the ground. Sit back so that you’re putting the weight through your heels and keeping your back straight. Then stand up and at the top of the stand movement squeeze your glutes (bottom) tightly. This is a really important part of the exercise.
Aim to go to 90 degree bend at your knees when you lower down, but if your body starts to tip forwards stop there. If you’re finding this tricky, try and find a slope and face your feet down the slope when you squat. This raises your heels and you should find it easier to get into that low squat position.
Run to your finish point.
It’s important to stretch the muscles we’ve worked out.
Tricep stretch: Reach one arm above your head then bend it back at the elbow. With the other arm push your arm backwards just below the elbow to feel the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds then repeat with the other arm.
Chest Stretch: With both arms behind you, alternate pushing the other hand down and back behind you. You should feel this opening up your shoulders and stretching across your chest.
Quad stretch: Lift one leg towards your bottom and use the same hand to hold it (you can use the other hand to hold something for balance). If you can’t feel the stretch, slowly push your hips forward until you do. Hold this for 30 seconds on each leg.
Hamstring and calf stretch: Facing a firm object (tree or wall, for example) face both feet forwards with the heel of the back foot on the floor and the back leg straight. Push your weight into the heel of the back foot to feel the stretch up the back of your leg. Once you’ve done this for 30 seconds on each leg, hold the same position but drop the knee of the back straight leg down (you might need to bring your back foot forward a bit) – you should now feel the stretch move down to your calf.
Outdoor Fitness Workout Routine to do with a friend
If you’re working out with a friend, do the above workout but instead of timing 30 seconds in between each rep, you do 10, then they do 10, then you do 9 and then they do 9. This way your workout is their rest break and vice versa.
So what’s the answer, which is better, indoor v outdoor?
The key is to find something you like and make it part of your routine. For help with goal setting and selecting the right fitness class for you, this article answers, “Which Fitness Class is Best for Me“.
If you can find an exercise regime you’re able to stick to and enjoy then you’re doing something right.
As with most things, a combination of the two can be a great way to retain variety in your workouts, stimulating your senses and motivating you to stick at it to see long-lasting results.
Whichever you do, enjoy it, stick with it, get the results.