Turn the Outdoors Into Your Gym

If you are bored with your usual routine at the gym, here are some tips to turn the outdoors into your gym by hiking and biking. Courtesy of http://hollysprings.patch.com

1.You’ll Have More Fun Getting Fit Outdoors.

Arlen Hall is a tours director at the Adventure Cycling Association in Missoula, MT. He says “cycling is a great way to get into shape because it can be used as aerobic exercise for a hard workout or a toning tool.”
Hall says, “I keep coming back to cycling because of the recreation, scenery and friendships that I have formed over decades. I love the friction of my tires on the roadway, the challenge of the next hill regardless of grade, and the beauty that surrounds me as I exercise. The gym or spin class really just feels like work, not fun.”

2. Beginners: Start Slow

Tony Fuentes, an exercise instructor for the city of Austin's wellness program, has 25 years of hiking experience. Fuentes, who also leads backpacking trips for the Sierra Club, says beginning hikers should “always set reachable goals at first.” Many cities have organizations such as the Sierra Club, says Fuentes, which offer hiking opportunities for beginning or returning hikers. REI, which has a location in Kennesaw, offers resources for both beginning and advanced hikers.

Hall says beginning bikers should “take it slow and easy. Do not push yourself too hard in the beginning. If you are over 50, seek the advice of your physician before engaging in strenuous cycling exercise. You want your first experience back on a bike to be pleasant and fun; if it isn't you may just put that bike back in the garage forever.

Start with local bike trails such as the Taylor Randahl Memorial Mountain Bike Trails at Olde Rope Mill Park in Woodstock or the Blankets Creek Mountain Bike Trails near Holly Springs.
These trails will tend to be flat with few hills. Begin riding three to four days per week for 20 to 30 minutes each, testing out the brakes, shifting, your rusty skills. Build slowly to five to six days a week with longer rides interspersed with shorter fast rides. Take one to two days away from the bike so that it does not become a chore but always recreation.”

3. Get the Right Equipment

You’ll want to get good shoes for hiking and get your current bike “tuned up” at Outspokin' Bikes in downtown Woodstock. If you splurge on a new bike, “make sure the bike is properly fitted. Regardless of the bike you choose, take it to a certified bike mechanic or a local bike shop that can fit you properly to a bike,” says Fuentes.

4. Stretch Before Starting Out

Hall says it's important to stretch before hiking or biking. “Just as you warm up before starting a workout in the gym, you need to stretch before riding as well.”

5. Don’t Push Too Hard the First Times Out

“You should feel energized at the end of your ride, not tired or worn out. The endorphin high you get from cycling motivates you to continue to work out,” says Hall.

6. Bring Lots of Water and a Snack

Hall says, “Hydrate. You will sweat out all the fluids that you take in. Make sure you include an electrolyte replacement fluid in your routine, as well as some salty/sweet snack (small) and an energy bar.” You can buy great cycling and hiking snacks and beverages at Outspokin'.

7. Avoid Injuries with Proper Equipment

Fuentes says, “Make sure your hiking shoes fit properly to avoid blisters. I put my trust in trekking poles and use low-cut hiking shoes.” To avoid accidents biking, “mirrors, lights, and reflective clothing are a must,” Hall says. REI in Kennesaw or Outspokin' are a resource for biking safety equipment and properly hiking fitted shoes.

8. Stay Motivated by Joining a Group & Working Toward a Goal

To stay motivated all season, Fuentes suggests bikers join a group ride or train for a charity ride. You can connect with a hiking or biking group through SORBA Woodstock.

“It takes time to build up your speed and endurance. Hikers should work on sustaining a good pace while using some method of measurement using a pedometer. Throw in some hill work to build up that endurance, and over time you become that strong and fast hiker you wanted to become. Wearing a weighted daypack helps also. As for cycling, find a nice pace, throw in some hills, and repeat. Hills are your barbells.” You can find equipment to help you enhance your hiking and biking workout at REI or Outspokin'.

9. Incorporate Hiking and Biking Into Your Next Vacation

Fuentes says, “Most destinations have bike shops with rentals. I love cycling on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Urban hiking can be fun, educational, and great exercise. One day while in Washington, DC I hiked for what seemed forever, racking up some serious mileage, and took in many of the sights.”

10. Stay Safe

“Always wear a helmet and ride with traffic" while biking, Hall says.

"Never ride on a sidewalk and always obey all traffic signals. Do not ride aggressive, but rather defensive. Carry a cellphone and identification and tools to repair your bike. If you are alone, leave a note as to your route before leaving home. Never talk on a phone while riding, do not use headphones, and never drink and ride.”
Hikers should never hike alone, and should always notify others of their intended route. They should carry a daypack with a knife, matches, a good map and compass, extra clothes, first aid supplies and a cellphone.


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