Working out outside

Taking the workout outside is about using what is around you, no need for fancy workout equipment.

If you're like the millions of other Americans who have put on a few extra pounds, spring means it's time to work it out!

With the delightfully crisp air and the sun reaching through the clouds, we are going to take the workout outdoors — because simply being outside is healthy, too.

Working out doesn't have to be something stressful or intimidating — you can do it in your own backyard. It is as simple as that! Taking the workout outside is about using what is around you — no need for fancy workout equipment.

We've talked to several fitness experts in the Kankakee area to take the guessing out of fitness. They tell us what to do, how to do it and why to do it — whether it is a specific exercise or some motivation. So let's put on our sneakers and sweat bands and get to it!

1. Go for a walk. "Walking is one of the most underrated forms of activity," said Dr. Aaron Thompson, director of the Physical Education Program at Olivet Nazarene University. "A lot of research shows walking just 30 minutes a day can reduce colon and breast cancer and Type 2 diabetes."

2. Stair Steppers. "Stair steppers for 30 seconds can get your heart rate up," Thompson said. This exercise can be done in the backyard or at a park, and can be done at a pace that suits the individual. "All you do is find some steps — like the ones on your back porch — and step up and back down them. Do it fast or slow and in 30-second intervals," he explained.

3. Do something fun. Thompson recommends picking something you actually like. "Don't do an exercise you don't enjoy," Thompson said."With exercise you have to find something you like; otherwise, you won't do it."

4. Squats. For an easy and simple exercise, Yvonne Mills, adjunct instructor and personal trainer at Kankakee Community College, recommends squats. For people with bad knees or backs, Mills recommends only a half-squat. "For the more experienced, grab that log off the pile from winter and hold it against your body just above the chest," Mills said, to add a little weight resistance to the squat.

5. Swimmers. This one might seem more complicated at first, but it's just like swimming once you give it a try, said Mills. Lay flat on the ground with arms extended beside your head and with your face about 1 or 2 inches from the ground. Raise your right arm and left leg about 2 to 3 inches from the ground and repeat with the left arm and right leg.

6. Stretch. Stretching is relaxing and helps awaken muscles that aren't used on an everyday basis. It is also a great way to cool down after a workout. "Be sure to always stretch out at the end of your workout and breathe in all that fresh air," Mills said.

7. Do you. Don't worry about what other people think when taking your workout outside! Just put in a pair of headphones and step to the beat. "Remember you're working out for you," said Daythan Nottke, creator and CEO of BodyBurn in Kankakee.

8. Hill Walking. "Use your environment," Nottke said. "Find a hill locally and challenge yourself to walk up it. You can jog to add more of a challenge."

9. Find a New Trail. "Don't be scared to get out of your comfort zone," Nottke said. "People don't work out at home because there is no challenge there." Nottke encourages exercisers to find a new neighborhood to walk or a new trail to hike. It is about getting fresh air and enjoying yourself.

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