Winter’s here: time to dust off your outdoor workout plan
As the rest of the world wraps up warm and turns the heating on, it’s our turn to start enjoying life outdoors in Doha. Winter has its perks here but using the weather as an excuse not to workout is not one of them.
According to a 2011 study published by scientific journal Environmental Science & Technology, ‘compared with exercising indoors, exercising in natural environments was associated with greater feelings of revitalization and positive engagement, decreases in tension, confusion, anger and depression, and increased energy’.
Doha is home to a number of parks that provide the perfect environment for sweating it out: Aspire Park in the Aspire Zone and brand new Oxygen Park in Education City, in particular, offer extensive walking and running tracks. Doha’s Corniche and adjacent Al Rumaila Park are just as good an option though.
Walking or running: choosing what is best for you
Whether you have just embarked on a journey towards a healthier life or you have reached the goal you set for yourself and want to maintain it, walking is an easy, cost-effective and immensely beneficial option. Regular brisk walking helps with weight loss and maintenance, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Walking decreases blood pressure, improves cholesterol levels, and increases cardiac endurance, bone strength and muscle mass.
The trick is to do it properly: according to the Mayo Clinic’s website, a proper walking posture involves holding your head high and looking forward, keeping your chin parallel to the ground, keeping your back straight by engaging your core muscles, and rolling your feet from heel to toe.
Choosing the right shoes is also important: they should have proper arch support, a firm heel and flexible soles to absorb shock: New Balance 1865 is a women’s best seller, while Saucony Hurricane ISO 2 [PICTURE] have been voted best running shoes of 2016 by Runner’s World.
Running is a bit trickier so check with your doctor or personal trainer before hitting the Corniche. Whilst it has the same benefits of walking, running comes with greater risks of injuries. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, preparation is key to prevent running injuries: ‘Plan a progressive running program to prevent injuries’, reads its online platform OrthoInfo. ‘A five-minute warm-up (which should raise your temperature by one degree) followed by stretching exercises, is essential before starting a run. Following the run, stretching again is important.’
Apps and gadgets
If you need a bit of a push to get up from the couch, there are hundreds of apps out there to help motivate you. According to a 2015 study published by the Journal of Medical Internet Research, ‘exercise app users are more likely to exercise during their leisure time’ as apps make it ‘easier for users to overcome barriers to exercise, leading to increased self-efficacy’.
PEAR Personal Coach, for example, is available on both iOS and Android devices and features a huge selection of audio workouts designed by personal trainers that can be done anywhere, all you have to do is take your smartphone and pop in the headphones. From cardio training to full body exercises to more specific workouts designed to lose weight or get a flat belly, PEAR prices range from QR 15 for a single workout to QR180 for an all-inclusive annual subscription.
For the geekier ones, smart watches also come with an array of accessories to help get the most out of your outdoor workout plan. The newest Apple Watch Series 2 is 50m water resistant for swimming and is able to ‘record precise distance, pace and speed for outdoor workouts such as walking, running or cycling’, according to an Apple press release.