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The Princeton Longevity Center Medical News

Creative Ways to Make Outdoors Exercise More Enjoyable and Effective
By: Chris Volgraf, CSCS

How often do you look out the window and say, “It is gorgeous outside today, I think I will go out for a walk?” Sure walking is great exercise, but there is nothing wrong with thinking “outside” the box when it comes to outdoors exercise.  It is a proven fact that people are more likely to continue with a particular form of exercise the more enjoyable it is. So why not be the first in your neighborhood to kick start your summer workout with some fresh ideas that will keep you going well into the fall?  What are you waiting for…these 3 simple ideas require very limited equipment, so you have no excuse!

  • Fartlek Training-No it is not a bad word! Fartlek actually means speed play in Swedish.  Fartlek is similar to interval training in that short fast runs alternate with slow jogging or walking recovery intervals. Fartlek training is done on the road, on jogging paths or in parks. Simply choose landmarks (a tree or lamp-post) to determine the length or duration of the higher intensity bouts of jogging or running, once the bout is finished, you must wait until you have recovered before starting the next one. There is no predetermined schedule to follow, but instead the person will set his or her own interval lengths and pace in response to their own feeling of the workload. You can also try cycling and swimming with the fartlek training model.
  • Half Mile Cross Train-Do you get bored easily?  Changing the mode of exercise every half mile will help keep things interesting and increases the efficacy of the exercise. Start by walking a half mile, finishing where you began (your house), then hop on a bicycle for the next half mile (or longer), then strap on a pair of roller blades/skates for the 3rd half mile, and finish with a steady half mile jog or run.  Before you know it you will be walking a mile, cycling 5 miles, rollerblading 5 miles and running a mile all in one work out!
  • Outdoor Obstacle Course-Remember the obstacle courses in gym class and field day at your school or camp?  With a few simple pieces of equipment that will not break the bank, you can revisit those days of old. All you need is a jump rope, an exercise mat, a set of small cones, 10 large rings or hula hoops, and a large sturdy box or stepping stool.  Here is how the obstacle course plays out from start to finish:
    • Jump Rope for 1-minute
    • Crunches on the exercise mat for 1 minute
    • Serpentine Cone Drill (jog or run) for 1 minute
    • Hula Hoop Zig Zag Hops for 1 minute (/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\)
    • Box Jumps for 1 minute
    • Push-ups on the mat—as many as you can do

*perform obstacle course on grass to ease impact on joints.

In the fitness field, we often follow the 12 week time table to map out and track our progress with exercise, so there is no better time than now to use June, July and August to get back into bathing suit shape and enjoy the great outdoors at the same time. For more great ideas regarding your exercise, be sure to schedule a fitness assessment with Princeton Longevity Center’s Exercise Physiologists with your Comprehensive Exam. 

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