To continue down this path of beginning exercise, I thought I’d talk more about where one specifically exercises and the benefits and negatives that come with each terrain. Below I have compiled a small list of common exercise destinations.
Road: This is obviously the most simple and self-explanatory. Nearly everywhere you go, there’s a long stretch of open road, possibly with even a sidewalk. It’s flat and fast and tends to not have many hills. It’s also incredibly convenient just to walk outside of your door and go for your walk, run or bike ride. However, there are several drawbacks to road running.
First, it is very hard on your legs. Each step you take sends “shock waves” up your legs and puts stress on your joints. Sure, if you have good running sneakers with high cushion it will absorb some of the shock but entirely stopping this is unavoidable.
Second, the streets are busy! Often times there is no sidewalk along side roads and running right next to cars can be scary. It is especially not recommended to run on the roads in the dark without proper night gear (head lamp, tail lights, etc.).
Third, it’s often not very shady. Running on the roads with the hot tar can be incredibly hot so make sure you are properly hydrated/have extra hydration before going out!
Trails: This is my personal favorite way to exercise. Trails often are very scenic and can make the exercising seem a little less painful. Trails also are often shady and keep you away from the sun on a hot day! However, trails can be very hard to come by… especially in a busy city.
If you can get yourself to a trail, it is highly recommended and can relieve some of the stress put on your body if you exercise on the roads every day. Trails are also very “rooty” and “rocky”. Using a pair of trail shoes with soles that have a more aggressive tread than a traditional shoe may be required for some trails.
Trails are not recommended for those that have balancing problems. Additionally, you should always go with a friend when on the trails as it some trails can be very windy and branch off in multiple directions. Getting lost in the woods by yourself is no fun…
Track: I definitely don’t recommend running on the track every single day but to do a run here and there or a workout is completely fine!
Tracks are flat and very fast… a necessity in the running world to have a good workout. Tracks however, like roads, are often unshaded and can be incredibly hot to be on for long periods of time.
Tracks also are designed to have the walker and runner to move in only one direction. Though this is a good idea as far as reducing chaos on the track, it can sometimes put heavy stress on one side of the body. If you are constantly turning in just one direction, one half of your body is working harder than the other and sometimes is even lopsided. Use your track time wisely!
Gym: The gym is handy if you want to do multiple exercise “activities”. For an example, if you’re looking to do a bit of running and want to lift weights, you can jump onto the treadmill, run and then switch right over to weights post-run.
This is much more convenient than having to make an additional trip to the gym to lift weights. Often times, when people have to make this extra trip, they convince themselves not to go or to “just do a little less”. The last thing most people want to do after exercising is jump in the car and go do more exercise. In this way, the gym is very convenient.
However, the gym can also be far away and very populated. People are much less likely to go to a heavily packed gym and often give themselves an out for that reason. Additionally, treadmill and elliptical work is not the same as going out on your own.
The machine does a lot of the work for you and you cannot simply rely on treadmills to train. The gym is also convenient when the weather outside is terrible. No one wants to exercise in a blizzard! Go to the gym when you need to, otherwise try to stay outside.
Home: This is not as common but many people still use this in their daily lives. If you have an at-home gym or access to any sort of exercise equipment, you can definitely take advantage of them late at night or on a rainy day. If you don’t have to exercise outside or go out when the weather is poor, why would you?!
Home gyms are mean’t for convenience, not for an every day workout. It is still highly recommended to go outside when you can and to exercise with others as often as you can. You are much more likely to go faster, farther, and more frequently with someone than exercising by yourself.
Challenge of the Day: Find a new exercise route today! Call a friend or a family member and ask them to check out this new spot with you. There are plenty of places to go… and potentially you’ll even find your new favorite spot.
Keep on chugging!