In order to get the nation back in shape, the US Surgeon General recommends finding fitness in your own back yard. That’s good news for Chicagoans, because our city offers a lakefront of parks, beaches and biking trails to for you to use to get your body moving. Exercising outdoors not only can release feel-good endorphins, it also can improve brain health and reduce harmful stress hormones thanks to all that fresh air.
It’s easy to walk or bike your way to fitness in one of the city’s many parks but here are some workouts from NBC Chicago’s fitness coaches that are fun, effective, and produce results!
Row, row, row and walk.
Bring along a set of resistance tubing and turn your daily walk into a calorie blasting, total body toning workout. Along every path in the park you are sure to find a stationary object like a tree or lamp post that you can use as a tool.
Walk for 5-10 minutes and then find a tree or lamp post. Stop and wrap a resistance tubing around the post at hip height. Get into a squat position and perform 20-30 rows pulling the hands back toward the rib cage with palms up. This exercise works on the upper and mid back muscles as well as the biceps. Take off the tubing and walk for another 5 minutes then try another exercise like side steps. Put the tube around your waist and walk sideways away from the post and back. Try for 3-5 steps for 10-15 sets and repeat on the other side.
Keep this pattern of strength and walking up for 30-45 minutes and you’ll burn twice the amount of a 25 minute walk.
Andrea Metcalf, Anytime Fitness, author Naked Fitness
Wide open spaces deliver 360 training.
Lunges are a great way to tone the lower body but sometimes space is limited in your home or apartment. Use the wide open grassy areas of the parks to train three-dimensionally. This type of training burns more calories, hits the weak muscles that stabilize the core and prevent injury. Start with a basic lunge and alternate stepping forward utilizing the following upper body movements. Repeat each move below for 6-10 sets for a total of 30-50 exercises in total.
- Arms overhead to the front
- Arms leading the body to twist right
- Arms leading the body to the left
- Arms overhead to the right side
- Arms overhead to the left side
This routine should take about 5 minutes and is a perfect warm for a run or an after workout tension-relieving, dynamic stretch.
For the upper body try this push up routine.
Start in push up position with wide hands just below the shoulders. Perform push ups with hands changing position listed below for 4-8 repetitions of each variation for a total of 20-40 push ups. Take a break in between sets as needed.
- Hands wide at chest line
- Right hand above shoulder with left hand below chest line
- Left hand above shoulder with right hand below chest line
- Hands in triangle position with fingers elbows out to the sides
- Hands parallel position with elbows bending in line with the rib cage
This routine should take about 5 minutes and builds upper body and core strength.
Sergio Rojas, Redefined Fitness & Physical Therapy
Turn the park into your own gym- bike rack, bench, tree necessary
Turn your park workout into a strength training session. Strength training is key for weight loss and anti-aging. A bike rack, a bench and a tree can all be turned in to muscle sculpting equipment.
A bike rack offers a stationary object you can pull yourself up to and work on the core and upper body muscles. Start by hanging underneath a bike rack at a 45 degree angle keeping the body in a straight line and extending the feet to another bike rack base if possible. Pull your chest up to the bar and perform 8-12 lifts. Change working muscles to hit both shoulders and lats (upper back) by changing the elbow position. Pull with elbows wide and to the side parallel to the body for shoulders and elbows in tight near rib cage to target the lats.
The park bench works as well as any step. Use it to perform step-up lunge combination moves. Step up with your right foot and lift your left knee up and forward. Balance and step down. Take the right foot off the bench and step back into a lunge position. Perform 20 repetitions of this move on each side. To challenge balance, step up and reach the left leg behind in a T balance body position. You may need to hold onto the bench at first but this move really trains those big and small muscles together which gives you better results.
Next find a tree to use for plank work. Start with your hands on the ground and feet at the base of the tree. Walk your feet up the tree 8-12 inches and alternate leg lifts in the air. Perform 20-30 alternating leg lifts for a core, shoulder and glute (butt) workout.
All moves can be repeated for 2-3 sets for a total body 20 minute workout.
Saran Dunmore, I Used to Be Fat, MTV Trainer