Sunday, December 2, 2012

Take Your Workouts to the Park!

Where do you exercise?  With a health club within every few blocks, NYC is full of options.  Even so, you don't need to belong to a fancy health club or crowded gym to get a good workout.  Even if you are content with your fitness locale of choice its always good to get a change of environment...

Ever think of working out in a park?  There is nothing simpler.  All you need is yourself (your body weight will create the resistance) and a park bench.  Find a set of stairs or a steep hill and you'll have yourself a killer workout!

Benefits of park workouts:

1) Allows for application of different exercise modalities with more ease. If you have been doing the same workout routine for years or even months you have plateaued and are not seeing improvements in your physique or advancements towards your health & fitness results. The more variation you have in your workouts, the more stress/stimili you are applying to your body and therefore the more it will adapt/improve to get results.  Most people do too much of one modality, cardiovascular training (running, spinning, eliptical), flexibility training (yoga, pilates), or muscular hypertrophy training (bodypart/split-routine/body builder workouts). In a park you can have an integrated circuit workout comprised of strength, balance, flexibility, agility, speed, power and cardio exercises all in one workout.  The gym is not always the ideal environment for these types of workouts due to space.

Sample workout:

Cardio/Speed: Stairs or Hill Repeats 2-3min
Power/Agility: Jumping Lunges 30+ sec
Strength/Flexibility: Walking Lunges 20 reps
Strength/Balance: Single Leg Deadlift 15 reps each leg
Strength/Flexibility: Decline Push Ups to failure, Crawling in grass 1 min, Dips to failure, a Plank Variation 30sec+

Repeat 2-3X

2)  Vitamin D, the "Sunshine Vitamin."  This important vitamin is produced in our bodies when we are exposed to ultraviolet radiation from natural sunlight (not through a window).  It helps the intestines absorb calcium and phosphate which in turn helps prevent osteoporosis, depression, prostate cancer, breast cancer, and even effects diabetes and obesity.  If you work in an office you probably don't get enough exposure to natural light which in turns leads to a Vitamin D deficiency.  Vit D naturally occurs in only a few foods which is why sun exposure is so important. Of course too much sun exposure increases your risk of skin cancer and other illnesses, but 5-30 min a few times a week, or 1-2 workouts in the park per week is just right!  So not only is getting outside good for your training regime its also excellent for your nutrition!

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3) Of course the most obvious benefit is the cost...its free!

As much as I love my home, the Koncrete Jungle, I also love to see green trees, the clear blue sky and feel the sun's warm rays.  I get outside as much as I can because it feels good too.  When the temps drop, layer up.  You'll feel warm as soon as you get going.

Get yourself to the nearest park & workout!


  1. Awesome, prima...
    What about if it is freezing cold outside (like it is in Beijing at the moment)... Any suggestions?

  2. Prima, sorry for the delayed response! You can still exercise outside in the freezing cold, if you dress appropriately. There are many options for athletic clothing that are light and will keep you warm and dry. Once you start moving and your heart rate goes up, so does your body temperature. Clothing made for cold weather usually made of polyester blends or wool will keep the warmth in and let moisture/sweat out. My personal favorite is Under Armour Cold Gear. Nike, Asics, Adidas and all the running apparel brands have a line of clothing for cold weather. Dressing in layers is best so if your start feeling really hot you can take the top layer off. You can start w/ a base layer and fleece on cold days and a wind resistant jacket on freezing days. Also remember to wear a hat, scarf & gloves. Avoid cotton because it traps moisture and draws away heat.

    Here are some links to cold weather clothing:

    Another tip to working out outside and staying warm is to do your warm up indoors before heading out. A 5-10 minute warm up of jumping rope, running in place, high knees, buttkicks or jumping jacks can get you warmed up so you won't feel cold at all once you get outside.

    So get your heart rate up, burn calories and stay warm!