During the summer months, after sitting in an office all day, the gym becomes harder and harder to focus in while the sun is shining outside. Summer is the perfect time to take advantage of the long daylight hours by exercising outside after work. In Boston, cardio-based workouts are made easy with our walkable city. Boston’s esplanade along the Charles River is a highway of runners every morning and evening taking advantage of the cooler temperatures and consistent breeze.
What we often forget is to include some strength training to supplement these efforts! Strength training can help to build anaerobic endurance, which will increase your body’s tolerance of lactate and help it to use lactate as an energy source without oxygen. It also increases muscular strength and size while running helps to increase our aerobic endurance. This when your body’s demand for oxygen is met and minimal lactate is produced allowing you to train longer...how’s that for some science??
The surprising part is that strength training does not have to be done indoors at a gym or even with any equipment! We love to keep things simple, so body weight works perfectly to provide a bit of a challenge as well as some health benefits! Check out a few of our go-to exercises that you can do on a park bench.
Sit on the edge of a park bench with your feet shoulder width apart and flat on the ground. Place your hands beside you at the edge of the bench and begin to walk your feet out until your knees make a 90° angle and are no longer sitting on the bench. Lower yourself until your elbows make a 90° angle and then push back up. Going down and up is one repetition. If this is too easy you can straighten your legs to increase the difficulty!
Elevated split squats
Stand on one leg about a meter away from a park bench. Raise one leg and place the dorsal surface of your foot behind you on the bench. Slowly lower yourself down until your knees make a 90° angle, making sure your knee does not pass over the end of your foot or move from side to side. Down and up is one repetition.
Start by supporting yourself on the ground with your hands and knees. Place your hands just wider than shoulder width apart and support your lower body by placing the balls of your feet on the ground behind you, forming a plank position with your body. Gently lower yourself to the ground, keeping your body straight and engaging your core until you arms make a 90° angle and then push through the palms of hands back up to the starting position. Going down and up is one repetition. If straight leg push-ups are difficult you can decrease the resistance by using your knees or by placing your hands elevated on a park bench with your feet on the ground.
Sit on the ground with your legs bent and your back straight. Slowly raise your feet off the ground slightly twist your body to the right, back to the center, to the left and back to the center. This is one twist. You can add some weight by holding your water bottle in your hand as you twist. Be sure to engage your core and keep your back straight throughout the exercise.
Single Leg Glute Bridges
Lie on your back with your feet flat on the ground and your knees bent at 90°. Raise one leg and keep it fully extended. Push through your planted foot raising your hips up and hold for 2-3 seconds before lowering your hips back down, this is one repetition. You can make this exercise easier by bending your extended leg at the knee and resting your ankle on your planted leg’s knee.
Exercising outdoors is the perfect way to soak up the summer sun (get in the daily dose of Vitamin D)! Just be sure to properly hydrate before and after your workout and to wear sun-screen!
Natalie Giraldi is a senior Exercise Science student at Simmons College in Boston. She is captain of the swimming and diving team and an accomplished swimmer in the New England area. Natalie is passionate for the outdoors and loves to spend time hiking, skiing or rock climbing. If she’s not busy swimming you can catch her baking or reading a book.