6 Great Ways to Get Fit Outdoors
Experts share their favorite ways to shape up and have fun outside.
"The reason we make that suggestion is not because the heart and lungs
can't handle it, but the joints and muscles are a little slower to adapt to the
stress of vigorous exercise," Stuhr says. Too much too soon, and you can
develop tendinitis or a variety of muscle or joint problems.
Equipment: It's important to get a good pair of running shoes, and,
for women, a quality sports bra. Pay attention to the surface on which you run.
Paths and grass are softer, but they're uneven and could have holes. Concrete
is harder, but good shoes help absorb shock.
Pros: Running is an excellent cardiovascular exercise. A 150-pound
woman can burn 306 calories running for 30 minutes at 5 mph (a 12-minute mile).
A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 1999 found
that aerobic exercise like running may be as effective as medication for
treating depression in some people.
Cons: Running can be hard on muscles and joints and can cause
injuries such as shin splints and tendinitis.
Not only is bicycling an excellent cardiovascular exercise, but you can
really explore your community by cycling to different neighborhoods or in
parks, bike paths, or trails. Many people cycle to commute to work.
While running tends to target the hamstrings (the muscles in the back of
your thighs), cycling uses the quadriceps (the muscles on the front of the
It's important to make sure your bike is fitted properly to your body;
otherwise, you'll put too much stress on your back or knees.
"I recommend finding a bike shop or a demo program where you can try a
bike out," says Tonya Laffey, a professional mountain biker and founder of
MTB Chick Racing. "I would highly recommend getting a fit kit, which
measures you for the bike."
When you're getting started, you want a softer seat but not one that is too
wide, or you won't be able to get behind it, Laffey tells WebMD. If you're a
woman, try a women's racing saddle. It will be more comfortable but may take
some time to get used to.
If your gym offers spinning classes, they can help you prepare for biking
It's also a good idea to learn basic bike repair, Laffey says.
Equipment: You need a bike, a helmet, and gloves with a little palm
padding, which will absorb vibration and cushion your hands in a spill.
Pros: Biking is fun, can be used as transportation, and works
different muscles than walking or running.
Cons: Equipment can be expensive. Cycling isn't weight-bearing
exercise (the type that helps build healthy bones), so you'll need to couple it
with strength training or another form of weight-bearing activity for optimum