Feeling a little cramped sitting at your desk all day? Hate wasting your money on a gym membership? Let the outdoors be your gym! It’s easy to improve strength, flexibility and range of motion right in your own backyard using everyday objects. Here are a few easy and fun exercises you can do every day to keep you limber and powerful anywhere at any age:
Find a log, a fence, a bench or something similar that is around 3 feet off the ground. Place your right hand on the top. Place your left leg on the top. Lift your body up and thread your right leg through the space created by your right arm and left leg, then land the foot in a controlled manner on the ground. As you advance, this can become one smooth motion by placing one hand on the top and jumping both legs over to the other side. Repeat on the reverse.
Grab a sizable rock, a stump, an old tire, an old steel bike or even one or two big bags of groceries. Place it on the ground. Squat down to deadlift it from the bottom. Stand up and walk 20 feet with the object held in front of you with your arms bent at a 90 degree angle. Squat to place down. Repeat.
Kneel with hands on the ground beneath the shoulders. Tuck toes under feet. Pull in belly button towards spine and lift knees a few inches off the ground. Keep back and neck flat like a table. Crawl forward, being careful not to swing hips from side to side. Crawl for 20 feet, then return. For more of a challenge, try this on uneven or hilly terrain for longer distances.
Think of this as a reverse animal crawl. Sit on your butt with your knees bent, feet on the ground. Place your hands flat on the ground beneath your shoulders. Lift your butt as high as you can off the ground and crawl backwards for 20 feet. If you want more of a challenge, place an object like a soccer ball or a chopped log on your lower belly/hips. Try to keep it steady and balanced on your hips as you crawl steadily backwards. If it falls, just pick it up and keep trying!
Find a strong branch, a jungle gym or a pull-up bar in your garage. Grab the pole/branch with both hands, plug your shoulder blades into your spine and hang. Keep your lower ribs buttoned to your belly button. This not only stretches the body, but prepares your body for more intense exercises like pull-ups. If this is easy for you, experiment with practicing different pull-up styles.
There are plenty of exercises that you can do that require absolutely no props at all. The stork see saw, explained here, is a great workout for core integration and balance. Even better, it can be done absolutely anywhere. All you need is a little motivation!
Using a tree, you can either hold a 30 second supported squat with your back against the trunk or you can use the trunk for balance as you squat in front of it. The supported squat can train you to use proper form and can also help you squat longer so that you can build strength for unsupported squats. Repeat a few times.
Arrange these exercises in any order you wish, and feel free to add in some of your personal favorites. Exercising outdoors is not only convenient; it’s also inspiring. The outdoors boosts mood, improves immune function and just makes you all around healthier. Try to move outdoors at least 3 times a week and prepare to be amazed at how incredible your body and mind will feel.