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Take It Outside

Expert tips for making that next outdoor walk, run or bike ride your best workout yet

Photograph: istock.com@dolgachov

After the winter we had around here, who isn’t tempted to ditch the gym? We are, and fitness experts actually tell us they want their clients to head outside right now. “People need to get the cobwebs out of their routines. This winter made a lot of my clients sluggish,” says Rore Middleton, founder of Fairfield-based Evolution Personal Training. Besides, there’s a body sculpting benefit to connecting with Mother Earth. “Inconsistencies [in the ground] will challenge your stabilizer muscles, help improve your overall stability and, with proper form, work your core,” says Jamal Smith, fitness instructor at Equinox in Old Greenwich. So whether you’re planning a lunch crunch or an evening session, here are some expert tips for making that next outdoor walk, run or bike ride your best workout yet.

Be Flexible
A fifteen-minute pre-workout yoga set—holding poses briefly and quickly transitioning through—stretches muscles and also warms the body for what’s coming next, says Smith.

Pack on Pounds
Running with a weighted vest or walking with handheld weights “really fires up your engine,” says Middleton.

Have a BackUp
When heat waves or rain derail your plans, have another option, suggests Equinox’s Harry Otto. “Running up and down a flight of stairs thirty times is an amazing substitute for your morning run.”

Think Intervals
Transform your outdoor cardio routine by adding strength-training moves such as squats, lunges or planks every thirty seconds or so, says Middleton. Or add sprints series at the end of your usual run, says Julie Gabay of Stamford’s Pacific Swim Bike Run.

Go for your Personal Bests
Strive to cover your bike route in increasingly shorter durations, adds Gabay. Once you’ve improved your time trials, add more distance. Then focus on time again. This approach works for walking and running, too.

Stay on Track
“Wear a heart rate monitor (make sure it counts calories, too) to keep from getting lackadaisical,” suggests Equinox instructor Giovanni Roselli.

Hyper Hydrate with water
Ditch sugary sports drinks. Instead pop a sugar-free electrolyte tablet into your water bottle, says Gabay.

Exercise Common Sense
When outdoors, play it safe: wear sunscreen; keep earphones at a sensible volume; and watch out for any road hazards.