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Spring workouts for everyone

No matter what your fitness level, there’s a fun way to work up a sweat in the great outdoors.

Spring is supposed to be when Planet Earth shows off. Parks should be a festival of colors, scents and recently-born creatures who are just glad to be alive. Unfortunately, while spring is still springing, the ongoing pandemic prevents us from enjoying it the way we’re used to. Indeed, spending more time indoors—with both a potential lack of exercise and an overabundance of temptations—might mean we haven’t been as diligent about those fitness resolutions as we, well, resolved to be. If that’s the case for you, you’re not alone.

Luckily, we can still enjoy time outdoors, provided we take the proper precautions, like social distancing, of course. Also consider taking your own bottle of water, so you don’t use a drinking fountain, and studies show that wearing a cotton scarf over your face can help prevent you from spreading the disease if you’re an asymptomatic carrier (e.g., someone who has coronavirus, but shows no symptoms). You can also take extra precaution by exercising outdoors in your yard or patio, if you have one. Whether you are doing strength training, a cardio session, or HIIT workouts, spring is the perfect time of year to take your routine to the outdoors.

To help you get going, we reached out to our friends at fitness app Aaptiv (whose services are included, free of cost, for eligible Haven Life customers). We asked one of our favorite master trainers, John Thornhill, to provide outdoor workout tips for a cross-section of people, from those who are getting back into fitness after a little hibernation to folks who’ve never even run for a bus, never mind for fitness. Here’s what he told us.

In this article:

For the beginner

For people who would like guidance and motivation during their spring workout, one of John’s top choices offered through Aaptiv is “All You CAN Do,” an outdoor run by Katie H. Katie is a very motivational trainer and her indoor and outdoor workouts include a lot of pep talks, guidance and encouragement to dive deeper into the mental part of working out. In “All You CAN Do,” you walk and jog your way through six songs; it’s great for beginners and those who need more encouragement during their workout routine.

For the lapsed or wannabe runner

It’s been said that those who can’t do anything can still run. (And those who can’t run fast, can run slow… and long.) Running is one of the easiest ways to exercise outdoors, whether you have access to trails, a track, or just a not-too-crowded sidewalk. “Aaptiv has an entire category dedicated to outdoor walking and running, where we even tell you when to turn back around and head home,” says Thornhill.

One of those workouts, “Stress Relief Run,” was designed by Thornhill himself, who explains it as: “One of the great things about physical fitness is that it’s a stress reliever,” he says. “When we exercise, our body releases serotonin, dopamine and endorphins to the brain which as a result makes you happy. That release of happy chemicals occurs when we sustain a tempo run, which is about 70% of your maximum effort. The objective of the Stress Relief Run is for the listener to enter that tempo zone while I coach them on using breathing techniques, focusing only on what they can control, and to have the user find gratitude in everything they see and do.”

Thornhill’s other favorite outdoor workout includes “Tempo Times Three” by Wes P, which also involves runs at “tempo pace,” which can be thought of as the running speed you can maintain for a longish distance – faster than “conversational pace,” the speed you can stay at while having a chat, but slower than your fastest possible speed. Tempo pace is different for everyone, and “Tempo Times Three” helps you figure out what yours is and how to maintain it.

For anyone needing inspiration… or some just competition

Inspiration can also be found in some of Aaptiv’s app-wide features. “Our Team challenges are specifically designed around the idea that friendly competition motivates people to stick to their plan,” says Thornhill. Sign up for a challenge and you’ll be put in one of two competing squads, where you might be doing anything from strength exercises to the 100 Challenge based on that number of sit-ups or push-ups (any fitness routine that features sunshine is more palatable). The fact that you’re working for a team may encourage you to stick with exercise even when you don’t feel like it, and the fact that you have a schedule to follow should make things easier.

For the eager student

If you want structure without the pressure of being in a group, Aaptiv’s Coach feature takes the information and goals you provide when you sign up and uses AI to create a personalized daily workout plan that “incorporates fitness, mindfulness, and healthy habits as part of a holistic approach to maintaining a healthy lifestyle” says Thornhill. “You’ll be able to choose to focus on stress reduction, better sleep, and healthier eating to complement your existing fitness goals.”

Speaking of eating, Thornhill mentions that weight loss isn’t just about burning calories. “Exercise combined with a healthy diet is the best way to reach your weight loss goals,” he says. “Everyone’s weight loss journey is unique to them, so there’s no one size fits all recommendation. Consistency in your fitness, your eating habits and your lifestyle is key to reaching your goals.”

Of course, in order to reach your goals, you’ll need to define some, and there’s no reason for them to be noble. If you want to look good in a swimsuit come July and that’s the thing that’ll make you do something for your health, so be it. Maybe you want to run a mile at the same pace you used to back in college (or faster!). Or perhaps you just want to make sure that the only people in your family who “outgrow” their clothes are your kids. Whatever ends up motivating you to pick up a fitness routine, your health is important for you and those who depend on you, so this is one area of life where the ends justify the means. These spring training exercises will get your heart rate up while enjoying some fresh air.

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About Michael Davis

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Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not endorse the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less hard if they are a fit for your situation.

Haven Life is not authorized to give tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or investment advice. Individuals are encouraged to seed advice from their own tax or legal counsel.

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