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Steppin' Out 

Take your workout outdoors for a fresh look at fitness

Are you bored with your indoor workouts — slaving away on that treadmill, stair climber, or stationary bike? Do you feel stifled by a mundane fitness routine? It’s time to get back on track, exercise outside and have some fun. A study at the University of Tennessee found that exercise performed outdoors has a lower perceived difficulty. You’ll also have the crisp air and surrounding environment to look at — motivating you through your entire workout.

Take your workouts outside, make the outdoor world your gym, and enjoy the open air. You can exercise morning, noon or night with unlimited space. Spice up your exercise routine with these six outdoor workouts, and burn calories while having a good time.

Speed Play

A combination of continuous and intense interval training, lasting between 25 and 35 minutes. Start with a five- to seven-minute jog to warm up. Sprint for 30 seconds — then jog for 90 seconds. Repeat this sprint / jog pattern with 10-second decreases in the recovery jog. (The second interval would be sprint for 30 seconds and jog for 80 seconds.) Once you get down to a 10-second recovery jog, finish with a light cool-down for five- to seven-minutes.

Front Door Distance

Wake up, eat and go to your front door — that is where you begin. From there pick a direction and just start running. Go for a predetermined amount of time and once you reach that time, stop. That distance you reached on your route is now your standard to beat. Next time you do this workout go for the same amount of time and try to beat your previous distance on that route — setting a greater distance each time. Remember to include getting back to your house as part of your total workout time.

Backyard Bash

Have a party in your backyard with a body-weight circuit and make your heart rate soar. Mix up some push-ups, body-weight squats, walking lunges, long jumps, jumping jacks, jump rope and whatever else your heart desires. Perform each exercise in an interval fashion — 30 seconds of work and 20 seconds of rest afterward. Continue with the next exercise immediately after the 20 seconds of rest to create an intense challenge for your body. All you need is your body — the best equipment you will ever have.

Rugged Terrain

Trail running or hiking elevates the level of difficulty for your workout and burns calories far faster than a simple jog on a flat surface. Fitness trails are abundant — you just have to find one and drive to it. (Of course you could also run to it.) Local colleges or community groups often have a list of available trails to trek. The unexpected scenery and terrain provide for great visual and physical stimulation.

Don’t know any good trails to run or hike on? Start with the Little Spokane River trail, a nice five-mile course in a natural setting just northeast of downtown Spokane. Or perhaps you might like the Dishman Hills Trail right in the heart of Spokane. With an elevation increase of 600 feet, this five-mile trail is a nice challenge.

For a longer list of available trails, try this Website: www.Washington-Hiking-Advisor.com. Of course if you’re looking to just run, the Centennial Trail provides 37 miles of paved pathway from the state line to Nine Mile Falls, Wash.

Workouts on Wheels

Skate, bike or even unicycle your way to a fit body. (OK, maybe not unicycle.) Get on your protective gear and go find your favorite trail or route to traverse. Go for a continuous 30 or even 40 minutes of intense biking or skating. Not only will you get to use different muscles than your usual jog or run, but you’ll also enjoy the variety in your exercise routine.

Harsh Hills

Find a nice sized hill, somewhere in the country, or a sidewalk with a steep grade. It’s quite simple from there — just climb the hill. Depending on the size of the hill you can run up, jog up or power walk up. Use the backs of your legs and your glutes to drive yourself up the hill, then walk down. Climb the hill 10, 20 or even 30 times — if it’s a smaller hill — to round off your workout at about 20 minutes.

Include these six outdoor workout ideas to expand your fitness arsenal and have an assortment of calorie burning excursions to choose from. You’ll find you no longer dread a workout — you’ll be looking forward to your outdoor ventures and jumping out of bed with an invigorated spirit. Outdoor exercise is challenging, fun and can be done anywhere: in your backyard, at the park and even on vacation. So go outside and play. You’ll have so much fun you’ll forget that you’re also burning a lot of calories.

Zach Hunt is a fitness coach and personal trainer in Spokane.

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