Why working out outdoors is good for you

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Jill Buchner, Canadian Living

Summer's a great excuse to head outside. Here's why you should exercise under the great blue sky.


Kick your run up a notch

When you're on a treadmill, boredom can take over before you hit your workout goal. But take your run outside and your workout becomes an adventure. Every trail, beach or road offers new scenery and motivation, while challenges like hills, uneven terrain, wind and sand help kick your run up a notch.

In fact, a study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that those who ran outdoors exerted more energy than those who used a treadmill. Aside from burning calories, running improves your heart health and boosts mood and mental health.

Try it under the stars in one of the Night Races across Canada, where participants do 5 or 10K through a city park in the moonlight.


Get climbing

At the gym, you might use a StairMaster, pull-up bar, lat pull-down machine and a host of other equipment to work your legs, back and arms. But why not go rock climbing and use the weight of your own body instead?

When you're scaling a rock face — be it real or constructed — you're not just strengthening your muscles, you're getting an aerobic workout. A study measured the aerobic exertion, breathing and heart rates of climbers and found that climbing qualifies as an excellent aerobic activity according to American College of Sports Medicine standards. And the thrill of conquering a mountain or outdoor Treadwall can't be measured.

Try it on the craggy Rocky Mountains — even beginners can get above the trees for a bird's -eye view of beautiful Alberta.


Grab a paddle

Give those back-breaking crunches a rest. The way to a ripped stomach and strong core is to cut through waves in a kayak. Stabilizing your boat and transferring your weight as you move the paddle from side to side requires a lot of work from your back and stomach muscles. Plus, unlike a floor workout, kayaking includes cardio, too.

A 160-pound woman will burn about 365 calories in an hour of kayaking. And if you get too hot, you can always jump in for a swim! Sign up for a kayaking lesson to learn the safety basics.

Try it in the pristine waters of Killarney Provincial Park, where you can explore the unspoiled wilderness and stop for an island picnic.


For ten great outdoor workout spots and how-to outdoor workout videos, visit CanadianLiving.com.

Organizations: American College of Sports Medicine, StairMaster

Geographic location: Canada, Rocky Mountains, Alberta Killarney Provincial Park

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