Outdoor Activities that are Alternative of GYM to keep you Fit and in Good Shape

Outdoor activities are a must in any workout regime. Leading a sedentary lifestyle gives rise to major health risks and is considered among risk factors which include smoking, high blood pressure, obesity etc. Scientific studies tell us that regular exercise affects our mood and keeps us immune to cardiovascular diseases. In addition to this, it keeps your weight in check and also controls your cholesterol by limiting the bad cholesterol in your your blood and increasing the good cholesterol.

Other than being all of this, exercise is most importantly a very good stress buster. A study by Professor Ulf Ekelund from the Medical Research Council states that only 20 minutes of exercise in a day reduces the risk of death due to lack of exercise by 50%. I have calibrated a list of five outdoor activities than one can do to keep his/her weight in check and lose that extra slab of fat.

 

 1) Swimming

Human beings have been swimming for a millennia and it is said that swimming comes naturally to humans. Human babies are born with the ability to swim. It is only our human nature that as we grow up we unlearn it. But that again is a hazard of being a human. Swimming is considered to be a wholesome activity that works almost all of your body’s muscles and also has an impact on your joints. Breath is something which is also what swimming regulates since its necessary to hold your breath at regular intervals while swimming. Some of the major forms of swimming include the Breast stroke, Free style, Butterfly, Back stroke etc. All of these forms burn calories at a different rate.

 

swimming keeps yoy healthy and fit ; medictips
swimming keeps yoy healthy and fit; medictips

Now let us focus on the benefits of swimming.

Burns Calories

Swimming burns around 500-600 calories per hour. It is said that flapping around in the pool burns a larger chunk of your fat than proper styled swimming. This is because the more fat a person has in his body, the more buoyant that person is, which means he can float better on water as compared to a person with low levels of body fat. More than often, people are concerned about how many calories they burn. They tend to compare calories burnt while swimming to other activities like running or cycling. A traditional study states that the amount of calories you burn are directly connected to the style of your swimming and also the intensity. Swimming burns around 11% less calories as compared to running and 3% less calories as compared to cycling.

Builds Strength and Muscle

A studied carried out in the USA states that almost all of the men enrolled for a month long swimming program, had a 20% increase in their tricep muscle. This is because the resistance in water is 44 times the resistance in air. Which means you have to put in a lot more energy to do that same activity in water as you do on land. This makes swimming an affordable way of building strength and muscle as there is no need of expensive equipment. Another added benefit of swimming in this context is that it is sweat free, and keeps you from overheating since the water around you constantly keeps you cool. 30-60 minutes of swimming a day helps build muscle and get toned. Intake of right amounts of protein right after you step out of the pool has also proved to be a very effective way of increasing muscle mass.

 

2) Running

Running is said to be the most natural and efficient form of staying fit or reducing your weight. This is something that comes naturally to human beings. As there is no scarcity of flat land, there isn’t any need to go to a specific place or procure specific equipment to perform this exercise.

Running is the most demanding sport and one needs to exert a lot of effort. But on the other hand, running does not require a specific kit and gives the runner a sense of freedom. When you start in sport, you build your resistance gradually. Similarly for running if you expect that you will run a marathon on your first day, that is practically impossible. So, it is always advisable to gauge yourself with various parameters. Time, for instance can be a very important parameter. If you have a history of running, running for long distances may come naturally to you, but if you are a beginner, then starting off with short an well timed runs is very important. Speaking from personal experience, if you have been on a break, start of with less intense regimes. If you run for a long distance on the first day of your workout, you are likely to end up fatigued. This can be demotivating and might also create myths.

 

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outdoor activities that keep you fit and healthy; medictips
outdoor activities that keep you fit and healthy; medictips

 

Another parameter to gauge the intensity of your run is a heart rate monitor. These come very cheap and can track your heart activities pretty accurately. If you are starting off, set small term goals for a week which include 4 days of short distance running while 2 days of long distance running. This. Gives your body time to breathe and also saves you from intense fatigue. Choose something that work best for. Comparing yourself with the milage of other runner might not work in your best interest. Every runner is different and he/she needs to accept it. Running for a long distance only comes over a period of time and requires dedication and commitment. Over dose of running, or for that matter over-dose of any form of exercise has its ill effects. Some of the common signs of over training are exhaustion, mental stress, emotional instability and elevated heart rate. Having the right clothes and shoes is also equally important.

 

3) Skipping Ropes

Rope skipping has traditionally been associated with young girls. But very few people know that this has amazing amounts of health benefits. It also is one of the fastest ways to burn calories and get to your goal of getting that perfect physique. Another way of putting it would be, a skipping rope is that one gym equipment which can fit in a bag, costs less than Rs.200 and also can be used by the whole family. Rope skipping for 15-20 minutes a day has enough potential to burn calories contained in a bar of Snickers!

 

skipping ropes is good for health
skipping ropes is good for health

 

A study suggests that skipping rope for 20 minutes in a day burns the same amount of calories as running for 8 miles. The only draw back this has is that it is not meant for everybody and it also requires a little practice to get the perfect eye, feet and hand coordination to get the right jumps without getting your feet caught in the rope. For beginners, a heavy rope with wooden handles is recommended. Because beginners get their feet caught in the rope, they tend to drop the rope quite often during their learning periods and hence this could cause the plastic handles to break.

Professionals use light-weight vinyl rope because they want to to maintain a certain speed and have one jump per skip of the rope. Since rope jumping is a high intensity aerobic exercise, beginners are advised to get the consent of their general physicians before starting.

One of the many benefits of rope skipping is that it improves your balance, motor skills and also sharpens your reflexes. To define the exact body motion of skipping a rope, the hands go in a roundabout motion moving the rope over your head and your feet keep bouncing on the same spot. The performance varies from person to person. The performance is better for people who have very good gross motor coordination skills, which is the coordination between your eyes, legs and hands. Jumping the rope is an exclusive outdoor activity which is fun and does not involve any financial investment and also burns a lot of calories and thus I recommend everybody does it.

 

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4) Cycling

Scientifically speaking, cardiovascular exercise is like a fertilizer for our brains and cycling is the best fertilizer in the business. Personally, I prefer cycling over all other types of cardiovascular activities.

A scientific study states that the more you pedal while on a cycle, the higher the rate of neuron generation in your brain. Which means the more you cycle, the stronger your brain gets! So does this mean if you cycle for more hours the you can possibly handle, you will end up having the brain of Albert Einstein? The answer is, surely not! Cycling has been linked to an exercise that develops only one specific part of your body, your quads. This although not completely, is partially true. Cycling does not only develop your quads but also develops hamstrings, hip flexors, gluteus maximus (butt). As far as your upper body is concerned, it develops your arms, chest, shoulders and also works your core body. This makes cycling another wholesome exercise. There are at large two ways in which you can cycle. One is the stationary bike that you find in gyms and the other is your outdoor bicycle.

 

cycling good for health and fitness medictips
cycling good for health and fitness medictips

 

Stationery Bike

Stationery bike is a bicycle that lets you pedal without taking you anywhere. I personally am not a big fan of this because it gives you no sense of achievement. All this pedaling and you are going nowhere! But setting my personal biases aside there are some pros and con to this. The benefit is that if you feel like cycling, and say the weather is bad, you could always hit the gym and get on the stationery bike. Also, another benefit is that it is absolutely safe since it does not actually involve riding on the road. Some of the cons include; it burns fewer calories as compared to the traditional bicycle because there is absolutely no air resistance and you are basically cycling on a flat surface. Also most of the stationery bikes are attached to a power source which does not make it eco-friendly.

Traditional Bicycle

Meanwhile, the traditional bicycle is a more environment friendly way of exercising. This is one form of exercise that everybody can adopt. Even when you’re off to work, or are off to your college, you can cycle to your destination and not use conventional transport. Cycling can be done at your pace and it still manages to burn fat. A lot of sports athletes use cycling as a primary form of exercise when they are recovering from injuries. Regular cycling has its share of benefits. You end up having decreased levels of body fats, your bones are strengthened, your body posture as well as your coordination improves and most importantly it is also a great stress buster.

 

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5) Tennis

This is a sport that almost everybody has watched on television, but if you ask the same people whether they have played it, the number is largely marginalized. I am one of those who has done both, watched as well as played tennis. One can play tennis on various surfaces, the most famous being grass, clay and hard courts.

 

playing outdoor games helps in staying healthy and fit ; medictips
playing outdoor games helps in staying healthy and fit; medictips

 

Since tennis originated in Britain, it was played by gentlemen and ladies on grass, hence it is often called lawn tennis. Tennis is a very good sport for maintaining health and it also helps you keep your stress levels in check. While at it, one needs to make sure that he/she is constantly drinking water.

Tennis is a rapidly expanding sport with millions of players joining in every year. While tennis can be played by anyone, it becomes very challenging for the top players because it is not only a test of your skill, but also your grit and stamina. An average tennis game for mens could go on for about 2 hours. According to a physician, people who indulge in 2-3 hours of tennis per week, cut their chances of dying by 50%. Playing tennis on a regular basis increases the player’s athleticism and makes his body very flexible and agile. People who have been playing tennis for a long time are found to have a slow resting heart rate.

To add to that, tennis players also have their blood pressure in check. What many people do not know is that this sport also manages to increase your bone density and also speeds up the metabolism of your body, Since it involves a lot of running and taking power shots, it eventually builds your stamina and also tones your muscles. The best part about this sport is that it is a non impact sport. Which means there isn’t a certain age or period in life you have to be in to start playing tennis. Since it is not a game of strength, but a game of stamina, anyone, from any age group can start playing tennis and excel at it. Repetitive stroke actions can also be a source for injures in tennis. To avoid this, proper training and coaching is advised before you play it on a professional level.

Shubhankar Kamat

Shubhankar Kamat

Shubhankar Kamat is a student at NMIMS, Mumbai pursuing his post graduate degree in MBA, he has also done Engineering in IT from St. Francis Institute Of Technology, Mumbai.
Being a gym-enthusiast, writing on matters of fitness and health comes naturally to him. You can mostly find him listening to classic rock or watching football.
Shubhankar Kamat

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