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A Few Tips Can Turn the Outdoors into Your Own Personal Gym

It’s not always easy to get in shape. We all know that we should eat right and get regular exercise. But it doesn’t take much investigation to see how rare that actually is. The reason why so few people manage to balance every aspect of a healthy lifestyle might prove surprising though. Most of us simply overestimate the role of a gym in physical fitness.

Avoiding a common stumbling block

It’s clear that we’re not a very healthy culture. Less than 3% of Americans have a fully healthy lifestyle. We have a seemingly paradoxical situation where cultures with the most access to fitness and nutritional tools seem to be the least healthy. But part of the reason actually comes down to the tools we use. Consider the fact that almost 70% of people’s gym memberships lapse and become unused. This is in large part because we try to force ourselves into fitness routines which just don’t suit our individual style. Nobody will keep up with a fitness routine that they hate.

Getting in shape with nature

Most people who give up on the gym assume that it means they hate exercise. But more often than not what they actually hate is exercising in a gym. However, there’s an increasingly popular alternative. More and more people are discovering that they can get in shape outdoors. Three’s a wide variety of exercises to try. But it’s best to begin with some fundamentals.

Running for your health in a variety of settings

You don’t need an athletic track to get a good run in. The vast majority of people can find enough space outdoors simply by jogging on the sidewalk. But one can take this exercise in an even more enjoyable direction.

Most nature preserves and larger parks have options for trail running. On the surface, it’s just jogging along forest trails rather than concrete. But the real secret to trail running is the natural terrain. Packed dirt offers far more cushioning than concrete. As such, there’s less stress on our feet when we run trails.

We gain something else from trail running though. People often give up on gyms because it’s just not a very enjoyable environment. It’s crowded, noisy and often even smelly. Running trails in a nature preserve is the exact opposite. It’s spacious, quiet and full of wonderfully fresh air. A gym pushes us away from exercise. While exercise in the woods is usually relaxing and enjoyable.

Balance beams can be found in nature as well

Balance training offers a wide variety of health benefits. But you don’t need gymnastic equipment to improve your balance. Head off into any natural environment and keep your eye open for fallen logs. Start slow, but begin learning how to work your way across the more solid logs. You’re essentially using these logs as a substitute for balance beams.

Keep an eye out for trunks that appear damp or which have an overabundance of insects. One millipede or two is fine, but if you see dozens of insects swarming on a limb than there’s a fair chance it’s rotten. Your foot could easily break through rotting wood. So you’ll want to ensure your exercise is limited to sturdy tree limbs or logs. If you keep working on balance training in this manner then you’ll soon be able to run across even narrow tree limbs.

Become as strong as a tree

We’ve covered cardio and balance training. Strength training might not seem possible in a natural environment. But you can find nature’s version of weight lifting in a technique called ringing the tree. To perform this exercise you need to look for a tree small enough to wrap your arms around. Try to form a ring around the tree with your arms. Then simply lift up and back with your arms as if you were trying to uproot the tree. Each attempt is similar to a single rep with traditional weights.

Nature tends to evoke health

These initial techniques cover cardio, balance and strength training. However, it’s important to remember that this is just the start. The more used to nature you become, the more opportunities for exercise you’ll begin to see around you. This is one of the biggest benefits that nature has over a gym. A gym limits you to a handful of exercises. But the possibilities offered by nature are endless.