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Adding Seasonal Variety to Your Exercise Routine

       It’s that time of year again…when the sunset gets later and later each day (leading up to June 21st which is the summer solstice) and activities move outdoors! This provides a great opportunity to add variety to your fitness routine by getting out of the gym (or the house) and exercising outside. Gone are the days of rushing home from work to savor the last few hours or minutes of daylight and battling bitter cold temperatures while exercising. With the sunset getting closer to 9 pm or later each day, you can enjoy a little “down time” after work and still have plenty of daylight left to get outside and exercise. Here are a few suggestions of what East Tennessee has to offer

 1. Walking/Jogging, Cycling, and Hiking: there are miles and miles of Green ways and hiking trails in Knoxville and the surrounding counties that are perfect for walking/jogging, cycling, and hiking. You can visit http://www.connectwithtn.com/index.php to find the Green ways and hiking trails closest to you. Take advantage of the beauty East Tennessee has to offer that is unique to this part of the country! Use this time of year to get involved in your local walking/jogging community by training for and completing a 5K road event (that’s 3.1 miles for those of us that do not use the metric system). You do not have to be a runner to get involved in a 5K road event; many people walk the courses, too! The Knoxville Track Club, in partnership with many area businesses and organizations, organize 15+ road events per month that are appropriate for any fitness level. You can visit www.ktc.org for a calendar of events and contact and registration information for each road event.

2. Yard Work: this is the time of year where everything grows, blooms, and invites us to spend time outside in our yards and gardens. Patients ask me all the time if they can count their yard work as exercise. It depends on the type of yard work that you are performing and what the physical demands are. If you are push mowing and/or weed eating by hand, you can count these two yard activities toward your exercise time during the day. Other yard activities, such as light to moderate gardening, raking, light trimming, etc all fit into the “activity” category, but should not be the only form of “exercise” you get for your day or week. Push mowing can burn, on average, 400+ calories per hour based on a 145 pound person, so pull out the push mower and offer to mow your neighbor’s yard, too!

3. Swimming, Canoeing, or Kayaking: East Tennessee has miles of rivers and lakes to enjoy this time of year and canoeing or kayaking is a great way to spend your time on the water and exercise too. Swimming is another form of excellent water exercise. Spending time at the pool with friends and family is a great summer activity (not to mention a great way to get relief from the heat and humidity) and you do not have to swim laps to exercise in the pool. Water walking is a fantastic form of cardiovascular exercise that you can do in the shallow end of the pool while you are watching your children or grandchildren play. The water creates resistance that helps get our heart rates up while we are walking in the pool. Walking at a moderately out of breath pace (where you can carry on a conversation, but it is a “labored” conversation) for two sessions of 15 minutes during your day at the pool will meet the American College of Sports Medicine’s exercise recommendation of 30 minutes of exercise a day.

4. Recreational sports such as Soccer, Basketball, Softball, Frisbee, or Golf: There are numerous opportunities to join recreational leagues to play any number of sports or you can go to your local park and participate in these activities on your own. You do not have to be an athlete to reap the benefits of playing basketball or soccer and don’t worry if you’re not the best golfer. The goal is to add variety to your exercise routine and walking the golf course as you play 9 holes of golf or playing a pick-up game of basketball is a great way to exercise!

 As with any outdoor activity, remember to wear sunscreen and remain properly hydrated. Variety is a key to success in maintaining a regular exercise and fitness routine and getting that variety from what each season has to offer is a great way to enjoy each one as it comes!

Rebecca Johnson, Exercise Physiologist, BS, CPT.

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