Everyone Can Afford This
Do you ever wish you could figure out how to have a great fitness routine without the cost and inconvenience of going to a gym? Most of us at some point in time have invested in some form of exercise equipment to have in our homes hoping to aid our great resolves to get fit and stay in shape. More times than not, however, they end up folded in the corner, sent to the basement or doubling as an expensive clothes rack in the bedroom within a few weeks. And what about your new passion to Come Alive Outside? Is there a way to combine the benefits of being outside and getting in shape at the same time?
Author and personal fitness trainer, Nancy Bruning, happened onto our Come Alive Outside webinar last month and followed up to assure us that both are possible, easy and free! Enjoy some of her insight below and highlights from her latest book, Nancercize: 101 Things to Do on a Park Bench. Then, head out to the nearest park bench and make the most of your opportunity to Come Alive Outside.
Q & A with an Expert
People Solutions interviewed fitness expert and author, Nancy Bruning, about her thoughts on Come Alive Outside and the potential of the outdoor workout. The insights below might just inspire you to see every park bench as a potential opportunity to get energized.
Why should people exercise outside in a park rather than in a gym?
“When was the last time you were moved by the beauty and majesty of the machines at the gym? Being in an awe-inspiring environment makes you feel energized and more alive, and more connected to the earth. Here’s a wonderful case of science supporting our intuitive feelings. Many studies show that people who live near or spend time in nature are less depressed and anxious, they feel more restored, mentally and physically, and less angry. Nature calms you down, and even can encourage alpha brain waves — the waves associated with deep relaxation, imagination, visualization, memory, learning and concentration…
“Being outdoors in nature tickles our senses — eyes, ears, nose, touch. It can even involve taste, as I learned when I lived in San Francisco and nibbled on the peppery nasturtiums growing in Golden Gate Park. It also stimulates our bodies to produce vitamin D. We’ve all heard how important vitamin D is for our bone health, but recently it has also become associated with preventing cancer, hormonal problems, obesity, and inflammation, and with improving our immune systems. Being in nature can help improve our quality of sleep since natural sunlight helps set the body’s internal clock that tells us when to eat and sleep, and normalizes hormonal functions that occur at specific times of the day.
“And perhaps most important of all, we get a chance to turn off — or better, leave behind — our cell phones to clear our heads and break from the stress we all have each and every day. I feel better just thinking about it!”
What are some of the reasons why people are spending more time and more inactive time indoors these days?
“Many of us work indoors, and our leisure time is also spent indoors, so screen time is a big issue. Wireless communication helps free us to use our devices outdoors — but are we really experiencing nature if our entire being is focused on the screen? Even when we commute, a lot of us are inside a car or other vehicle instead of walking or biking. Plus, even though crime rate is down, parents are afraid for their kids to be outside on their own. Many schools are not meeting standards for physical activity for kids, often because they are emphasizing academic learning. There’s perhaps an excess fear of sunlight. Also, planners and designers need to do a better job of giving us safe, clean, pleasant outdoor spaces close to where we live and work. We can’t choose to spend time in nature if nature is too hard to get to.”
What do you say to the person who is “too busy to exercise”?
“I say, ‘Me too!’ For most of my life I earned my living as a writer and editor. One day I realized that I was sitting too much, indoors too much, alone too much. How ironic — I was a health writer who wasn’t even following her own advice! So, I figured out how to weave not only exercise but also the outdoors into my life, in the company of people, and to earn part of my living doing it. For those who aren’t quite ready for a career move like that, I’d say if you’re short on time and you want to spend time with people you like and love, start figuring out what activities you can share with others outdoors. Some research shows that all you need to start enjoying the relaxation benefits is five minutes of exercising in a park, working in a backyard garden, hiking on a nature trail, or even sitting in a plant-filled room. Surely we can spare five minutes here and there throughout the day! You’ll more than get back that time in increased productivity and creative thinking.
If you could give everyone one reason to Come Alive Outside, what would it be?
“It will make you look good naked! I’m only partly kidding because people who go outdoors to exercise tend to like it better than an indoor workout, and are more likely to come back for more. When you move more, you not only burn calories and build muscle to boost metabolism, but you’re also more likely to make smarter food choices. So, it may help you manage your weight. But the bottom line is, being in nature just makes you happy and feel great. You need fewer brownies or beers in your life. I’m not saying that no one should ever exercise indoors. I just want to point out that you really get twice the payback for your time when you take your physical activity outdoors. It’s a great addition or alternative to anyone’s regular indoor exercise routine. And the glorious sense of freedom you feel is usually available for free!”
Nancercize: 101 Things to Do on a Park Bench
If the title of this book makes you smile, that’s a good thing. And here’s another reason to smile: Nancercize helps you get instant relief from “fitness guilt.” We know we “should” be getting more exercise and then feel guilty that we don’t. With Nancercize, you actually want to move around more because, along with the pleasure of moving your body, you’re enjoying the extra good feelings and benefits of being outdoors. C’mon, admit it — you’d love an excuse to get up and get out — to escape into nature, the opposite of what you usually do all day!
And while you’re walking around, enjoying your change of scenery and air, why not add a few push-ups to tone your arms, some tummy toners, a stretch to get the kinks out of your neck and shoulders? Nancercize helps you spice up your walk or run with moves that involve your whole body. Walking or running is a good place to start, but for optimum health, we need more variety of movement.
Nancercize gives you a way of breaking free of old ways of thinking about fitness without expensive equipment or exercise clothes. If you don’t have time to get to the gym, just open the door and walk over to the nearest park and give your mind, body, and soul a treat. Whether it’s a five-minute stretch break or a one-hour exercise extravaganza, there’s a park bench nearby, waiting for you. What about adding your own bench in your backyard, patio, or terrace to benefit from this creative way to work out at home!
If you are looking for a fun and energizing way to get big and little doses of physical activity without joining a gym, then get a copy of Bruning’s book and tap into a unique system of over 100 exercises and stretches that use only a park bench as your exercise equipment.
Here’s a great video on Bruning’s website demonstrating some of the exercises from her book.
Green Gym Day
Bruning and her partners around the world are collaborating to launch the first Green Gym Day on June 9th. “The aim is to encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to use the day to think about the outdoors, especially their local parks, as a place for fun, exercise, family time, and relaxation. [We] hope that Green Gym Day will spark a health revolution by putting parks on more people’s radar as a place to take a walk, play a game of catch, take part in a class, or join a team sport.” To stay up on the latest progress and get access to materials that will help you organize an event in your local park, check out Green Gym Day on Facebook.