Fall Into Fitness

When the fall season arrives, many of us return to the hustle of our regular workweeks, kids returning to school and schedules that are much less flexible. While the weather is generally still pleasant, we tend to spend less time outside and more time indoors, almost as though we are bracing ourselves for the harsh winter month ahead.  With the leisure summer activities coming to a halt, we may tend to become less active with occasional workouts becoming confined to the indoor gym environment.  The good news is, you can still take your workout outdoors, enjoy the positive effects of nature, and keep to a tight time schedule. 

If you’re an outdoor runner, cyclist, or have ever taken your strength training routine outside, you will probably agree that there is something truly unique about being in the fresh air and stimulating environment that nature provides. Research supports that there is a greater benefit to exercising outside. A study by J. Thompson Coon, et al, found positive effects when exercising outdoors, including a greater sense of revitalization and well-being when compared to indoor workouts. 

With a little creativity, you can replicate many of the exercises you do at the gym to the outdoors where you also benefit from the energizing effect of being among nature.  If you look around your local park you will begin to notice that there are many exercise tools that you can utilize to your benefit. One effective way to create some variety into your outdoor fitness routine is to choose various areas throughout the park to be your ‘exercise stations’.  For example, one station might be a park bench while another may be a picnic table, a stone ledge, or a set of stairs. 

The following 5-exercise routine is geared towards targeting the entire body while also helping improve your cardiovascular fitness, all within approximately 30 minutes. For this routine choose 2 exercise stations.  Start at the first station and perform the first 3 exercises, then run to the second station and perform the last 2 exercises. Run back to the first station and repeat this sequence until you complete 3 rounds.  The benefit of taking this approach is to allow you to change your exercise environment while also improving cardiovascular fitness.  You can choose your stations also based on the distances you’re comfortable with.  Try to complete this routine while taking minimal rests between exercises.  Challenge yourself further by timing the entire routine and trying to beat that time on your next workout.

The following 5-exercise routine is geared towards targeting the entire body while also helping improve your cardiovascular fitness, all within approximately 30 minutes. For this routine choose 2 exercise stations.  Start at the first station and perform the first 3 exercises, then run to the second station and perform the last 2 exercises.  Run back to the first station and repeat this sequence until you complete 3 rounds.  The benefit of taking this approach is to allow you to change your exercise environment while also improving cardiovascular fitness.  You can choose your stations also based on the distances you’re comfortable with.  Try to complete this routine while taking minimal rests between exercises.  Challenge yourself further by timing the entire routine and trying to beat that time on your next workout.

It is recommended that you consult with your doctor before engaging in any exercise program.  If you currently have any joint or back injuries or a lack of experience with exercise, it is not recommended that you attempt this workout without seeking the guidance of a physiotherapist or qualified personal trainer.

The Warm-up
Perform a light jog for 5-8 minutes through a park or comparable outdoor venue while taking note of at least 2 separate areas where you will be performing the exercises.

Tools Required
Strength Band (light to medium resistance), park bench, picnic table, and/or high steps

Lunge Press
  • Anchor band to bench
  • Face away from anchor point, holding band with both hands
  • Hands begin at armpit level with palm facing downward
  • Step into lunge, simultaneously press the band away to straight arm position
  • Step back out of lunge and return the band to starting position
  • Complete 15 reps then switch legs
Trunk Rotation
  • Anchor band to bench
  • Hold the band in both hands, standing with your right side facing the bench
  • Remain in a partial-squat position, hands in line with center of your chest
  • While keeping your core engaged, and arms straight twist away from the bench
  • Ensure your hips follow the movement by pivoting on your right foot as you twist
  • Complete 20 reps then turn around and repeat going the other direction
Plyo Squat-Row
  • Anchor band to bench
  • Stand back facing anchor point and drop into a squat position
  • Immediately jump up out of squat, while simultaneously pulling band towards upper chest
  • bsorb your landing into the starting squat position
  • Repeat for 20 reps
Single Leg Triceps Dips
  • Place your hands on the bench shoulder width apart
  • Raise one leg in the air and keep your chest high and shoulders back
  • Slowly lower your body so that your elbows are bent 90 degrees
  • Press up through palms to straight arm position, squeezing the back of your arms
  • Repeat for 10 reps then switch leg position without pausing
  • Total reps 20
Power Step Up
  • Place left foot on step or bench
  • Lower your body so that you are starting from a deep knee bend position
  • Drive off the heel of your left foot, while simultaneously driving your right knee up
  • Land back down on the step while absorbing your landing into start position
  • Repeat for 15 reps then continue 15 more reps with the opposite leg