Green Your Workout

Get fit, fight stress, and boost your immune system in the great outdoors

Green Your Workout

Being surrounded by nature—greenery in particular—comes with a host of health benefits. Why not add exercise to the mix for an even greater health boost?

Spending time in natural green environments, whether you’re exercising or not, can reduce your body’s overall level of inflammation, lower hypertension, and boost your immune system.

Working out in a green setting provides an additional set of benefits. Compared to those who exercise indoors, outdoor exercisers experience better moods and a greater reduction in tension and fatigue.

Symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues may also be decreased by spending time outside—especially when combined with exercise. In one 2012 study, individuals with depression who walked in nature improved their moods and short-term memory to a greater extent than when walking in an urban environment.

Ready to reap the amazing rewards of outdoor workouts? Give our routine a try. All you need is your favourite green space (such as a forest trail) and a small resistance band loop.

Your green workout

Complete this workout as a circuit. Once you’ve gone through all five moves, start back at the top.

Beginners: Aim for 3 rounds.
Advanced trainees: Try 5 rounds.


Lateral walk

Reps: 15 to 20 each side
Target: Gluteus medius

Strong gluteus medius muscles (on the sides of your glutes) help stabilize your pelvis and knees, making this an important move for runners.

  • Loop a mini-band just above your knees. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees bent slightly, and chest up.
  • Without leaning your body to the left, slowly step your right leg out to the side. Keep your toes pointed forward. Follow with your left leg. Maintain tension on the band by keeping your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Complete reps to the right, then switch direction.

Push-up to side plank

Reps: 5 to 8 each side
Target: Chest, shoulders, obliques

This combo exercise targets your upper body as well as your core. If you’re not yet ready for push-ups on the ground, elevate your upper body by placing your hands on a step, bench, or log.

  • Start in a push-up position, with your hands placed directly under your shoulders. Your head, torso, and legs should form a straight line.
  • Lower your body until your chest and face are within an inch of the ground (or the surface on which your hands are resting). Keeping your body in a straight line, press back up to the start position.
  • Transition to a side plank by transferring your weight to your right hand and rotating your body to the left, stacking your feet on top of each other. Reach for the sky with your left hand.
  • Rotate your body back to the start position, perform another push-up, then repeat the side plank with your right arm reaching up. Keep alternating sides for the remainder of your set.

Mini-band squats

Reps: 15 to 20
Target: Glutes, quads, hamstrings

By adding a mini-band to bodyweight squats, you’re challenging your glutes as your legs work against the band resistance.

  • Loop a mini-band just above your knees. Stand with your feet a bit wider than shoulder width, hands clasped at chest height.
  • Hinge your hips back, bending your legs until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Squeeze your glutes, then come back up to standing.
  • Keep your chest up and your back flat throughout the movement, and make sure your knees stay in line with your toes.

Shuttle runs

Reps: 4 laps
Target: Glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves

Shuttle runs help you develop agility—useful for sports such as soccer, tennis, and trail running. Changing direction as you run is more challenging than running in one direction, since you’re constantly decelerating and accelerating.

  • In a flat area, choose two landmarks about 30 metres (100 feet) apart, such as trees, large rocks, or logs.
  • Sprinting as fast as you can, run from one landmark to the other, and back again. That’s one lap.
  • Try to change directions as quickly as you can, slowing down only enough to turn around with control.

Mountain climber cross

Reps: 20 to 30 each side
Target: Core, shoulders, glutes, quads, hamstrings

This mountain climber variation improves your cardio capacity and your core strength—especially your obliques.

  • Start in a push-up position, with your hands placed directly under your shoulders. Your head, torso, and legs should form a straight line.
  • Brace your core (as if you’re about to get punched in the stomach). Bend your left leg and bring your left knee toward your right elbow, toes off the ground.
  • Keeping your upper body in place, jump your right leg back while jumping your left leg forward and toward your right elbow. Quickly alternate for the duration of the exercise.

Quick tips for working out in the great outdoors

  • If you’ll be heading out alone, let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to be back.
  • Ensure your footwear provides the stability you need when training on uneven surfaces. Trail running shoes are an excellent choice.
  • If you have pollen allergies, check your city’s pollen index (often available with your local weather report). Pollen counts are usually highest in the mornings.
  • Make sure you have your phone and ID with you. You can stash them in a “Small Personal Item” belt made for running.
  • Make sure to wear reflective clothing if you’ll be out before or after daylight hours.

Other ideas for outdoor workouts

  • For a challenging cardio conditioning workout, find a set of stairs and spend 20 minutes running up and down.
  • If you haven’t jumped rope since elementary school, it’s worth giving it another try. Rope jumping is one of the most effective conditioning exercises you can do, and it can be done almost anywhere.
  • Up for a serious lower body challenge? Choose a flat trail or open area about 200 metres (650 feet) long. Do walking lunges along its entire length. Advanced trainees: aim for two laps, for a total of 400 metres (about 1,310 feet).

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