The US Surgeon General recommends finding fitness in your own back yard. She reminds us this is key to getting this nation back in shape. Chicago offers a lakefront of parks, beaches and biking trails to utilize to get your body moving. Exercising outdoors not only releases good feeling endorphins, it also improves brain health and reduces harmful stress hormones by breathing in the fresh air.
It’s easy to walk or bike your way fit in the park but here are some workouts from NBC Chicago’s fitness coaches, Andrea Metcalf, Sergio Rojas and Saran Dunmore, that are fun, effective, and produce results!
Saran Dunmore, I Used to Be Fat, MTV Trainer
Turn the park into your own gym- bike rack, bench, tree necessary
Turn your park workout into a strength training session. Strength training is key for weight loss and anti-aging. A bike rack, a bench and a tree can all be turned in to muscle sculpting equipment.
A bike rack offers a stationary object you can pull yourself up to and work on the core and upper body muscles. Start by hanging underneath a back rack at a 45 degree angle keeping the body in a straight line and extending the feet to another bike rack base if possible. Pull your chest up to the bar and perform 8-12 lifts. Change working muscles to hit both rear deltoids (shoulders) and lats (upper back) by changing the elbow position. Pull with elbows wide and to the side parallel to the body for delts and elbows in tight near rib cage to target the lats.
The park bench works as well as any step. Use it to perform step up lunge combination moves. Step up with your right foot and lift your left knee up forward. Balance and step down. Take the right foot off the bench and step back into a lunge position. Perform 20 repetitions of this move on each side. To challenge balance, step up and reach the left leg behind in a T balance body position. You may need to hold onto the bench at first but this move really trains those big and small muscles together which gives you better results.
Next find a tree to use for plank work. Start with your hands on the ground and feet at the base of the tree. Walk your feet up the tree 8-12 inches and alternate leg lifts in the air. Perform 20-30 alternating leg lifts for a core, shoulder and glute (but) workout.
All moves can be repeated for 2-3 sets for a total body 20 minute workout.
Be sure to check out all three parts of this article. Part 1, part 2, part 3. For more tips on fitness, health and living better, turn to www.nbcchicago.com