Although gyms have been opening throughout the country, you may not be comfortable exercising indoors yet. Whether you’re in a state that requires a mask while doing indoor activities or you don’t feel safe exercising with others indoors, many folks are finding alternate ways to exercise.
While you can always exercise at home, here are some fun and creative ways you can get in your physical activity while being outdoors.
Ideas for Outdoor Activities
There are many ways to exercise outdoors — biking, walking, hiking and running are the obvious choices, but there are other ways to get your heart rate going outside. Once the pandemic hit, I started inquiring about different types of outdoor activities and found quite a few.
My local Club Fit in Briarcliff, New York, had an amazing volunteer who organized a singles tennis “COVID” league, where women were paired to play singles several times a week. I still manage to schedule singles matches regularly with these women and now co-captain the clubs USTA tennis team, which is running during COVID-19. In addition, my local Scarsdale F45 (a high intensity interval training chain) holds classes indoors with masks per local regulation, but many members opt to do its outdoor socially-distanced boot camp.
My teenage girls have picked up skateboarding — with mandatory pads and helmet — which has also been a nice way for my kids to bond with each other and learn skateboarding tricks.
After speaking to Colleen Christensen, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and founder of the brand No Food Rules, I may have to pull out my Rollerblades from the 1990s. Christensen finds in-line skating is “exercise that doesn’t feel like exercise. It brings me back to my childhood and the joy that I felt to move my body verses just getting through a workout at the gym because it’s on my to-do list. I have a smile on my face the entire time, even if I am not the most graceful or skilled Rollerblader out there!”
And if you’re looking for a new sport, what about pickleball? Lisa Andrews, owner of Sound Bites Nutrition in Cincinnati, has become an avid pickleball player during the pandemic. “I enjoy it because it’s social, competitive and outside. Equipment is not expensive and it’s an easy game to learn and play,” explains Andrews.
The sport combines elements of badminton, ping pong and tennis. It’s played using solid paddles made of wood or composite material to hit a polymer ball over a net. It can be played using the surface of an outdoor tennis court. Courts are popping up everywhere, though the sport has been around since 1965. “My friend and I play for about 45 to 60 minutes at a time. It’s like table tennis on steroids and so fun to play!” says Andrews.
Social Media Fitness Trends
There have been all kinds of fitness challenges popping up on social media. One in particular, called Everesting, allows you to climb the equivalent height of Mt. Everest. The concept of Everesting originally took off during COVID with the increased interest of cycling. You pick any hill in the world and continue biking, hiking or walking it until you “climb” 8,848 meters — the height of Mt. Everest. You can complete the challenge on bike, foot or virtually. To date, close to 9,000 people have completed the challenge.
Can anyone try Everesting? Amy Goodson, a sports dietitian based in Dallas and author of “The Sports Nutrition Playbook,” says that “Everesting can be a great way to exercise because you can do it any time of day and without a membership fee. However, this type of activity (climbing or biking the height of Mount Everest) is really more for experienced exercisers and athletes.”
This type of exercise is less ideal for those that have not been exercising due to the volume of exercise it takes to accomplish the goal. Goodson recommends that it would be wise for people who are just getting back into exercising to start slow and train for a few weeks or months before they take on the full Mount Everest feat.
Everesting, whether running or cycling, requires a lot of fuel and hydration due to the duration of the exercise bout. If you choose to try Everesting, Goodson provides tips for success:
— Start with a solid pre-exercise meal 2 to 4 hours before your workout. The goal is to have at least 50% of your meal as complex carbohydrates paired with some lean protein, a little fat and plenty of fluid, at least 16 to 20 fluid ounces.
— During the hours of training, aim to drink 5 to 10 fluid ounces of fluid (water or sports drink) every 15 to 20 minutes. After 90 minutes of exercise, it’s necessary to add carbohydrates and electrolytes to successfully fuel the rest of your workout. Sports drinks, energy chews and gels, fruit and energy bars are easy options; the goal is 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrate an hour after the first 90 minutes. If you know you’re going to be training for hours, it would be a good idea to start fueling with carbohydrates earlier in the workout.
— The key to success is practice. Practice consuming carbohydrates in shorter workouts so that you don’t have gastrointestinal issues during longer workouts.
— Don’t forget about post-workout. It’s essential to refuel with carbohydrate, high-quality protein and fluid within 45 minutes after a workout. Shakes, smoothies and chocolate are fantastic options that provide you with all three.
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