Benefits of outdoor exercise / fitness training

Outdoor fitness photoSummer is just around the corner. If you have spent the winter exercising in the gym, or working out at home with fitness DVD, now is a good time to head outdoors and refresh your fitness routine.  So why is outdoor fitness good for you?

Top 5 benefits of exercising and training outdoors:

1. Boost your endurance, stamina and tone your whole body for FREE

So there are lots of fancy machines, equipment and classes at the gym. But let’s face it, not everyone has a gym membership, or has the time to travel to a gym. The good news is, you can get an AWESOME outdoor workout using your own body weight, and it’s free! There are so many exercises you can do outdoors.  Different variations of squats and hill sprints are just two of my favourite exercises that you can do without any equipment. I also love to work my upper body with push-up using a park bench and mix in some step ups too. Interval training is also fantastic to improve endurance and stamina.

2 Psychological benefits – the feel good factor

Exercising outdoor not only keeps you healthy and fit physically, it also works wonder for your mood. The green environment and fresh air helps delivering oxygen to our body, combat stress, declutter our mind, feel positive, motivated and energized!  It also helps focus on our workout and reconnect with our mind and body. For mummies with buggies, fresh air and change of scenary are fantastic for your babies too!

3. Burn more energy

Certain weather conditions are known to boost your energy burn during a workout. Resistance from the wind, for example, makes you work harder while running and cycling as your body needs to counter-balance the added resistance. Your body also burns more energy while exercising in the cold compared with working out in a warm environment. The varied terrain and slopes also makes the workout more challenging, keeping your core hard at work!

4 Sunshine

Not only sunshine cheers you up and gives you an instant lift in the mood, our body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on our skin. Vitamin D helps strengthen the immune system and makes bones stronger. Sunlight also boosts the levels of endorphins, aka the feel good hormones, and helps prevent depression. The best time of the year to get vitamin D from sunlight is from March to October.  20 minutes in the sun is enough exposure for an adult to see the benefits. To protect your skin from sunburn, don’t forget to apply suitable sunscreen before a workout.

5 Get your family involved

Keep your family fit and active by heading outdoors! Let the kids run around, play a ball game with the kids, there are so much activities to choose from.  It really helps motivating each other in staying active, and creates a foundation of healthy living in the family.  Why not make it a regular weekend activity and spend some quality active time together?

Related article: Outdoor fitness sun safety tips

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What is abdominal separation / diastasis recti?

Abdominal separation is a common condition that occurs in pregnancy and postpartum, where the left and right halves of the rectus abdominis (six pack muscles) separate.  Diastasis means separation, and recti refers to the rectus abdominis muscles.

abdominal separation mutusystem

Abdominal separation is caused by overstretching of abdominal muscles, to allow to growth of the uterus and baby during pregnancy.  A small amount of widening of the gap happens in all pregnancies and is normal. Abdominal separation occurs in about 30% of all pregnancies.  The gap returns to less than 2 finger-widths spontaneously in most pregnancies, but for many, the tissue remains too wide, causing problems.  The abdominal muscles become weak, and therefore reduce the protection and stability of the whole body, not just the abdomen section.

How to test for abdominal separation / diastasis recti?

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent, and your feet flat on the floor
  2. Place one hand on your abdomen, with your fingertips just above the belly button
  3. Lift your upper body a couple of inches off the floor, and gently press your fingertips on the abdomen
  4. Move your fingertips along the midline, above and below the belly button to check for separation
  5. A gap of two or more finger-widths is generally considered as abdominal separation

What exercises / movements should be avoided when abdominal separation is present?

Once abdominal separation is confirmed, you will need to focus on pulling the abdominal muscles closer together, and avoid any movements that pull the muscles apart on a daily basis.

Here’s a quick checklist of exercises / movements to avoid:

  • Flexion of the spine. Examples: crunches, sit-ups. Not only crunches and sit-ups make the separation worse, they are also bad for the back. So no more crunches or sit-ups ladies!
  • Crunching up to get out of bed or get up from the floor. Always roll over to your side, then use your arms to push yourself up to a sitting position.
  • Any movement that involves strong / resisted rotation or side flexion. Examples: side crunches, russian twists, ab ‘bicycles’, side-bends with dumbbells.
  • Plank.  The amount of pressure placed on your abdominals while holding a plank can be immense, it can easily make any gap in your abdominals worse.  As the separation heals, this exercise can be slowly introduced into your workouts.
  • Movements that stretch the abdominals. Example: back extensions. Not only these movements will feel uncomfortable, they are inappropriate for weakened abdominal muscles.

So you might be thinking ‘what can I do about my abdominal separation’? Luckily, there are specific exercises you can do to help your abdominal muscles recover, and I am here to help explain it to you. Find out more on our ‘Abdominal Separation Recovery Programmehere.