Human beings tend to be creatures of habit and that’s as much true for exercise as anything else. Some people are in the gym five days a week and panic if they miss a day or have to change their routine by going on holiday and enjoying themselves for a fortnight (alright, yes, I do tend to pick hotels that have gyms – guilty as charged!). Other people choose to do 30 laps in their local indoor pool every morning or can’t bear the thought of missing their twice weekly hit class. However, we often forget that Mother Nature has provided us with the perfect training ground and, better still, what she has to offer is free!
For instance, if you are a big fan of the step machine in the gym, have a look at your surroundings, pick the highest point and walk there. Walking uphill is a great workout for your glutes (those muscles that keep your bum firm and pert) plus it’s a great way to get your heart pumping but the best bit is seeing the view from the top. Not only will you get a different perspective of the place where you live but you’ll also get a great sense of achievement when you realise quite how high you’ve climbed – you’ll literally be feeling on top of the world!
If you spend all your time on the treadmill listening to your i-pod or watching a video on the little TV screen in front of you try taking yourself off into the countryside. Walking on a surface that is not level or even is a much harder workout for your muscles than walking on a flat surface as you constantly have to adjust your pace and stride according to the terrain. Not only that but being in and feeling a part of nature is incredibly beneficial for our emotional and spiritual well-being.
The same applies if you do your cardio in the gym on a bike; whilst it is an effective exercise and you can adjust the resistance on the machine to make the workout more strenuous, it’s not the same as taking an actual bike through the hills and dales. Not only that but, with a static bike, you don’t get that amazing feeling of free-wheeling down a hill which evokes such wonderful feelings of childhood for so many of us.
Although it’s not a gym exercise, swimming is hugely popular and a great all-body workout; it uses virtually all our muscles, is low impact and it makes our hearts and lungs work hard. However, lengths up and down the pool, for me at least, is not the most interesting way to pass the time. Swimming in the sea, however, is a whole different ball game; it is physically harder as you are having to work against the current and adjust for the constant movement of the water but it also has the effect of making you feel at one with something beautiful and powerful. The surface of the water is also ever-changing as is whatever is moving about underneath which means that it’s rarely, if ever, boring!
The weather won’t always allow us to get out and about and maybe you don’t feel that you live somewhere that’s worth exploring but Mother Nature always has something to offer us. I love going to the gym but, as soon as the sun comes out I want to be out there soaking up the vitamin D and enjoying what this wonderful world has to offer.