Keith McNiven founder Of Right Path Fitness talks us through some outdoor exercises and Activities.
I’m a huge fan of getting outdoors to exercise, and will always try and do at least part of a personal training session outside. Most of the time, we’re cooped up indoors so just the act of getting outside is hugely beneficial to our wellbeing. Outdoor exercise also has many physical benefits over indoor training. Gyms and studios, great as they are, are artificial environments so are controlled and contained. Head outdoors and you have to deal with the elements, uneven terrain even potential hazards like crossing roads when you run. Outdoor exercise brings with it an added challenge, and we need to challenge our bodies to keep ourselves interested in our training and to keep results coming.
When you’re starting a new outdoor exercise like kayaking or canoeing, you might join a club or try out a session with a canoeing school. Exercising within a group has lots of health benefits. Firstly, there are huge motivational benefits as when others are around encouraging you, you’ll be more likely to really dig in and get involved. Secondly, if you enjoy it, then you’ll be more likely to stick to it. If you find an exercise you enjoy, then you won’t even see it as exercise, it’ll just become your hobby and enjoyment. Without even realising it, as you canoe you will be improving your cardiovascular fitness and developing your upper body strength, across your chest, back and shoulders and down into your abs too. It’s a brilliant workout.
Archery is one of those outdoor activities that you might think is easy and isn’t going to do much for you fitness wise, but you’d be wrong! Even the kit itself is a good weight, so when you’re holding that bow in position with your other arm drawn you will really begin to feel the effects all across your upper back and arms. Added to the challenge of having to hold the archery position is the need to have the correct archery stance, utilising your core to keep glutes and legs strong. It’s a real skill activity, so requires concentration and effort to execute correctly making it both physically and mentally challenging.
A rope assault course is an outdoor activity that you can really get stuck in with, clambering up ropes, balancing over beams and taking on the scramble net. With each activity you are challenging yourself in brand new ways, and using muscles that you most likely rarely use to full effect. With something like a rope climb, you’re going to be using your biceps for all they are worth as well as your back and abs to really pull yourself up, but you’ll also be really testing the muscles in your fingers and forearms and using your inner thighs to grip the rope so your upper body isn’t doing all the work. I’m all for covering yourself in mud and just going for it at rope assault course. At the end comes a huge sense of satisfaction for having finished the course, and realising that you are capable of a lot more than you imagined.
It’s all too easy to get stuck in a routine with your fitness, thinking up something new to do can seem like too much hard work. But just remember back to your school days and the immense satisfaction that comes with learning a new skill and gradually improving on it. Now is the perfect time of year to be getting outdoors and trying out some outdoor fitness activities. You might just find one that you absolutely love, and if not, well you’ve had a go and done something different, and that’s always worthy of applause.