Care to step outside?

Posted on November 20, 2010

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With all the fancy gyms dotted around Dubai kited out with their high-tech treadmills, state-of the-art coffee machines and mammoth flat TV screens, it’s easy to forget that the real thing lies right outside your front door. And now that Winter is finally upon us, it seems a tragedy to lose out on the glorious sunshine, cool air and light breeze in favour of an artificially-lit, artificially-cooled … just artificial full-stop ‘health’ club.

The benefits of training outdoors can’t be underestimated. For starters, outdoor training puts you in an ever-changing environment that challenges your brain as much as your muscles. Having to constantly adjust to varying terrains, inclines and obstacles improves your mind-body connection and sharpens your physical skills such as balance, agility and coordination. This means more muscles are working to do a similar indoor workout and in the end you will actually be burning more calories.

But ultimately, the biggest payoff is the way training outdoors makes you feel. The outdoors help invigorate your spirit and revitalise you emotionally. It helps to re-energise and focus after a day spent in the office or equally, it sets you up for a day ahead in the office. It reminds you of the amazing beauty all around us – yes, even in Dubai – look around and there are blue skies, green trees, pink flowers … the colours in parks and landscaped communities are magical at this time of year.

So ditch the gym this week and try these top training ideas to get tuned into nature …

Exchange Circuits for Bootcamp

Dubai has no shortage of bootcamp-style training programmes that take place throughout the city and cater for every level – I recommend Ignite’s courses over any other.  Or … design your own bootcamp routine. Any landscape can be created into a natural obstacle course; parks, playgrounds, hills,  apartment block stairs and beaches are just a few of the options. You can use your own body weight as resistance for a tough upper body workout and picnic tables, park benches or side walls for step-ups, dips and push-ups. Stair-climbing is a great high-intensity cardiovascular workout and in Dubai there are no shortage of skyscrapers to choose from.

Trade the Treadmill for the Track

If the treadmill is your favourite gym machine, you’re not alone. It’s the most commonly used piece of equipment not least because it burns more calories than any other. But … have you ever just felt like a hamster on a wheel? Running or walking outside gives you the same benefits and more. You get the added elements of balance, agility and coordination, you will strengthen your joints and you will sharpen your foot-eye coordination.

Head to the designated running tracks at Safa Park or Jumeirah Beachpark and enjoy the softer terrain … or just head out your front door and make up a route as you go along.  Take some money for water stops and your ipod loaded with your top tunes and just run!

Swap the Step Machine for Rollerblades

Roller blading is the perfect alternative to stepper machines because it works the same muscles and more, targeting the outer thigh and ankles as well as hips, shins and bum. You burn a ton of calories and your time just flies by thanks to the ever changing scenery.  If you work on your rhythm and swing your arms and shoulders as you skate, you’ll get all the benefits of an upper body workout too.

There’s often skaters on Jumeirah Beach Road, around Safa Park and in Um Sequim around Sunset Beach so why not join them?

Switch from Bike to Bike

Both stationary and road / mountain biking are great forms of  exercise that place less stress on your joints and the muscle-building benefits to your lower body are similar in both. But when it comes to calorie-burning, outdoor biking burns way more calories because it challenges the upper body, especially the shoulders, arms and upper back. The abdominal muscles get a solid workout as well since they’re needed for core stabilisation to keep you balanced.

Dubai has a huge cycling community with regular trips out to Hatta, Friday morning rides from Wolfi’s and then of course, the tri-lot who are always seen out and about enjoying a good ride!

Join a Team

Outdoor team sports are a fun and easy way to try out a new sport, mix up your routine and enjoy the social atmosphere you get from classes. Log on to the Duplays website and you can’t fail to find something that ticks your box be it volleyball on the beach, netball, hockey, soccer and more.  Any movement your body isn’t used to will work the muscles in a different way and allow for greater muscle development, calorie expenditure and overall enjoyment.

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