Facilities for free!
By Stephen Buttler - Issue 2
You don't have to break the bank to stay fit as a fiddle, says fitness expert Stephen Buttler
While the local health club/gymnasium may be a big part of the lives of some people, time, location and finances may be inhibiting factors for others.
Well, the good news is that aside from walking, running and cycling generally being environmentally friendly and reducing expenditure, there are numerous benefits to ‘green’ health-based activities in the outdoors and in everyday life.
● Small steps. In ‘green’ outdoor activities the forces required for projectile movement, balance and good posture are far greater than when exercising on a stationary cycle, treadmill, rower, etc. ‘Green’ exercise has the advantage of seeming easier due to less predictable, variety induced mental stimulation from changing scenery, exploring the surroundings and sometimes seeing wildlife.
As well as outdoor activities exposing you to Vitamin D, which improves concentration, exercising in different weather conditions will strengthen your immune system and constantly challenge you through changes in the terrain, wind conditions and the like.
Treadmill inclines cannot mimic the intensity value of outdoor riding, walking or running uphill, and seldom can indoor gymnasium-based activity mimic working muscle groups as strongly as when they lengthen during outdoor decline exercise. Your ‘green’ workout can of course include getting off the bus one stop sooner and/or taking the stairs rather than the lift!
These activities are never too far away, whether it be gardening, sports, pastimes or in your local country or urban park. They can be free, saving on the household budget, and may allow you to spend more time with your family.
● Bigger steps. Exploration of your surroundings will change your outlook significantly. Sturdy park benches and fixed logs for step-ups, press-ups and dips are great alternatives to indoor gymnasium equivalents. Chin-ups/pull-ups and hanging leg raises for a strong midsection and back can be carried out on a strong tree branch or on an outdoor bar at your local outdoor park.
Purpose-built obstacle courses can induce a great full-body workout involving jumping, vaulting, rope swings, scrabble nets, etc. Suspension chains found at outdoor parks can be utilised to mimic sometimes expensive ‘suspension training systems’ where you develop balance, good posture, joint stability and core stability (the ability to maintain and restore your postural alignment).
‘Green’ activities therefore, can be more cost effective and beneficial for your health and fitness while seeming easier through heightened mental stimulation.