With the changing temperatures and the longer daylight hours, more and more of us are wanting to spend less time inside the gym and still maintain our fitness. While hitting the gym for a workout is great for building our strength and taking in a boxing class helps our cardiovascular endurance, the call of the great outdoors in upon us. That doesn’t mean however, that we need to forgo our health and fitness by skipping the gym. Here are a few ways you can keep fit outdoors this spring in and around the Edmonton area.

Running / Trail Running

Why It’s Good For You:

Jogging and running are superior forms of cardiovascular conditioning, while providing the benefits of socializing and getting outside for some much-needed Vitamin D after a long winter.

Ways to Prepare / Prevent Injury

Those that save their running for the nice weather need to be sure they hit the trails with a progressive mindset in order to avoid injuries. Build up your time slowly and be sure to include some strength training to help your joints and muscles prepare for the impact.

Variations

Edmonton has some of the best options for running because of our amazing river valley. One can stick to the paved trail system which extends from southwest Edmonton in Terwilligar stretching east into Sherwood Park. For those looking to get more in touch with nature however, Edmonton has spectacular trails that span just as far and offer a wide variety of terrain. 

Stair Climbing

Why It’s Good For You:

Stair climbing provides a great cardiovascular and leg strength workout with a means of easily creating various intensity levels.

Ways to Prepare / Prevent Injury

Stairs are great as they can provide beginner to advanced levels of intensity but with much less impact than running. This can decrease the likelihood of impact causing injuries as well as a great activity for those with problematic knees or back injuries. One can prepare simply by starting your stair training at a walking single stair level intensity.

Variations

Edmonton’s river valley has created the need for many stairways throughout the valley which provides a variety of lengths, steepness and locations. Simply by adjusting walking or running, number of stairs at a time and length of stairways one can begin their spring training with lighter intensity and simply progress by using the mentioned variable to increase intensity and make for easy progressions to one’s fitness challenges

Cycling / Mountain Biking

Why It’s Good For You: Getting on your bike in the spring is a great cardiovascular and strength development activity while eliminating any impact on the body’s joints.

Ways to Prepare / Prevent Injury: Make sure your bike is in good working order. Be sure to select appropriate clothing, such as a wind proof jacket and warm gloves as riding can bring about a little more wind chill, and with that in mind, one does not want to wear baggy jackets or pants as they create unnecessary drag.

Variations

Edmonton has an extremely long and scenic paved trail system for those who would like to keep their tires on asphalt. But for those who are a little more adventurous, the river valley also provides some of the best mountain biking trails in the province. Drop into your local bike store for both paved or off-road recommendations.

Hiking

Why It’s Good For You:

Hiking is a low impact form of cardiovascular conditioning, that can be done with a group.  Unlike running its easier to combine a variety of fitness levels within a hiking group which tends to keep the group together. 

Ways to Prepare / Prevent Injury

Be conservative in both duration and mileage if you were fairly sedentary through the winter months. Although there is much less impact than running, your muscles and joints will still require time to adapt through a nice progression of time or distance. There are some that like to carry packs, either for the added challenge or possibly have a set goal of a larger hike in the mountains. Progress your pack weight in the same conservative manner you would your time and mileage on your feet. Understand that carrying weight puts more strain on your knees, shoulders and back. The best form of winter preparation for hiking would be to include some strength training in order to increase the body’s ability to provide support to all the joints. If carrying a pack is a goal, then including some upper body strength training would also be of large benefit.

Variations

Hiking is usually something thought of as being a little more rugged and being off the beaten path. If you’d like to enjoy the same benefits but keep your shoes clean, then you have Edmonton’s shared paved pathway system with stairs interspersed throughout.

Canoe/Kayak/Rowing/Stand Up Paddling

Why It’s Good For You:

Paddling is a non-impact activity that provides varying levels of intensity. It can be a nice gentle paddle down the river, or an intense fast paddle up the river. With most paddling options there is usually the opportunity to do it with a partner or a group of friends.

Ways to Prepare / Prevent Injury

Mobility is a big part of paddling as one is restrained to a kneeling position, seated with your knees bent, or in kayaks, seated with your legs straight out. Working on hip, spinal and shoulder mobility would be very beneficial prior to paddling at the start of the spring season

As the majority of paddling taking place in some form of a seated position, much of the work is placed on our upper body and torso. It is also quite repetitive, so if an area in the upper body is not strong or stable it may start to wear down over time. Working on shoulder, arm and back strength and stability would provide you a nice solid foundation to safely power yourself through the water.

Variations

There are lots of options when it comes to paddling. One can simply canoe up or down the river and this would be the least technical of the paddling options. Kayaking is another option but requires a little more balance and flexibility in order to sit comfortably inside the narrow design of a kayak. Some may also enjoy the Learn to Row program with the Edmonton Row Club. A fast-growing activity is stand up paddling or SUP. One must stand up and maintain their balance on a surf board while paddling. SUP is great for balance and acquiring abundant core strength.

Golf

Why It’s Good For You:

Get active guidelines list walking as one of the best aerobic activities for adults. If you walk the course, most 18-hole courses equate about 10 km or more of aerobic activity. Golf is also a fantastic activity for socializing with friends and giving you a mental break from your hectic regular schedule. Edmonton and the surrounding area have both public and private courses that are open through the spring-fall months.

Ways to Prepare / Prevent Injury

As the snow melts and courses prepare for the new season, one could visit their local driving range to hone their golf swing. It is a great time to get the body used to some powerful rotational movements. Just jumping into a 9 or 18 hole game could make one very stiff /sore with 55 plus or 110 plus swings in a single game.

Variations

There are chip and putts around Edmonton as well as nine-hole golf courses which tend to have shorter fairways and are great for less experienced golfers, or parents with younger kids.

By Kevin Masters – Director of Sport Performance at Propel Performance Institute

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