Katie Bulmer-Cooke: Let’s go outside 

Lighter nights are on their way and for North East Times’s health and fitness correspondent, Katie Bulmer-Cooke, this marks the time to train outdoors

It is officially my favourite month of the year, not just because it’s my birthday, Mother’s Day and my wedding anniversary all in one month (my poor husband), but because it means lighter nights and brighter mornings, which generally leads to having more of a spring in your step and more options to get outside and exercise.

Exercising outdoors is a great way to keep fit and being out in the fresh air really gives you a boost. However, many people think that outdoor exercise means running. Of course, running is a great way to keep fit and burn calories, but it may not be right for everyone. So with this in mind, here are some of my and my clients’ favourite ways to keep fit outdoors, without running.

Get walking 

If you are a total beginner, walking is a great way to get started. All you need is a pair of supportive trainers and you’re ready to go. Start with a steady 20-minute walk and then you can try some interval training walks, which involve really striding out and power walking, mixed with timed periods at a more gently paced walk.

For example, power walk for one minute and then drop to a more steady pace for 30 seconds and repeat. If you really challenge yourself with a decent pace and the odd hill, it’s amazing how many calories you can burn.

Use outdoor facilities 

Park benches aren’t just for sitting on. They can be used to perform a variety of exercises on. You can try doing tricep dips on them, or incline press ups (with your hands on the seat). To improve muscle tone in the lower body as well as challenge your cardiovascular system, you can also use the bench to step up and down on, sit down and jump up from or you can try some split squats with your back foot elevated on the bench.

Train with others 

Playing sport is a great way to keep fit while having a good laugh, too. It’s an inexpensive way to stay active and it’s also extremely sociable. As children, we enjoyed sports such as rounders, football and even making our own obstacle courses, so maybe now is the time to release our inner child, and of course get our friends and family involved, too. In addition, if our kids see us playing sport in a fun way, they are much more likely to want to get involved and step away from the iPad and Xbox.

So, why not give it a try? Get started by simply popping your trainers in your work bag and head out for a power walk on your lunch break. We all spend way too long sitting down, so let’s grab every opportunity we can to get outside and make the most of the change in the season.

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