Running is great. It improves cardiovascular fitness, helps build bone density, and it gets you out in the sun, so you can soak up some vitamin D. But there are times when you might not be able to run. Perhaps you’re dealing with an injury, or maybe you just want to change things up. Whatever the case, here are some cardio exercises that you can do outdoors, in place of running.
WalkingThere are those who don’t consider walking exercise; those people are probably doing it wrong. While walking is definitely low-impact, and slower than running, it is definitely exercise. A 150-pound person can burn approximately 177 calories during a brisk, 30-minute walk. However, calories aren’t the only issue. Because walking is a weight-bearing exercise, it can build your bone density, like running. Also, adding stairs and hills to your walking routine builds your leg muscles, which can increase your resting metabolism and improves your muscle endurance. Additionally, if you are recovering from an injury, walking is a good way to ease back into running.
Equipment Needed: A good pair of athletic shoes and comfortable clothes.
Cycling is an excellent way to build cardiovascular and muscular endurance. It also gives you a chance to work your glutes and quads, versus the hamstrings and calves, which do most of the work during running. Also, because cycling is considered non-weight-bearing, you can also do it while recovering from a stress fracture, or similar injury. Some companies have even come up with elliptical exercise bikes that function like an elliptical trainer in the gym, but can be ridden outdoors, like a bicycle. These elliptical bikes add an extra dimension to the cycling workout because you move your arms and feet, which increases your heart rate. The elliptical bikes are also mildly weight-bearing, which can help build bone strength.
Equipment: A bicycle, or elliptical bike, a helmet, cycling shoes (for a standard bicycle).
Hiking is similar to walking, only more intense because it usually involves a lot of hills and uneven terrain. If you are hiking for long distances, you may also need to carry supplies, which can add to the weight load.
Hiking strengthens your legs and cardiovascular system and, because it is a weight-bearing exercise, it builds bone density. Another benefit to hiking is that your surroundings can be very relaxing, which contributes to your peace of mind. The downside to hiking is that you may have to travel a ways, to find a good hiking spot, which means it’s not an ideal daily activity. Also, some hiking areas can be very rugged and wild, so you should always hike with a partner.
Equipment: Hiking boots and backpack (with water, snacks, and supplies).
Swimming and Water Exercise
|I don't really swim. I hot tub and do yoga in my bikini.|
If you’re not a good swimmer, you can run, walk, or job in water at, or below, chest level, for cardiovascular exercise. Water aerobics is another excellent way to get exercise in the water. The difficulty is in finding access to a pool, or a safe, clean body of water. Also, it’s easy to get dehydrated in the water because you don’t realize that you’re sweating.
Equipment: Swimsuit, goggles, water shoes (optional), and plenty of drinking water.