Low-Cost Outdoor Exercises

Summer is the perfect time of year to try some new low-cost outdoor exercise that you can do in your own back yard. No expensive equipment or gym memberships required!

| July/August 2006

There are a number of low-cost outdoor exercises you can choose from to help you get healthy in body and mind.

Low-Cost Outdoor Exercises

With all the media attention, medical research and scientific studies, most people know by now that physical exercise is essential to maintaining health. Paired with a healthful diet and lifestyle, exercise often is the key to lasting good health and longevity. When we know that daily exercise can lower the risk of heart disease, many cancers, high blood pressure, stroke, weight gain, osteoporosis, depression and more, it’s amazing everyone doesn’t make it a top priority.

But, with our hectic schedules, long work hours and so many available sedentary leisure activities, exercise sometimes can get short shrift. When asked, Americans’ main excuses for not working out include expense and lack of time. And yes, gym memberships, pricey equipment, rigid class schedules and more can undermine our best efforts to stay fit. But, summer is the time of year you want to look and feel your best. Here are a few types of exercise you can do out in the summer sun that don’t require much equipment, much less a membership to the gym. So, combine your enjoyment of the season, the beauty of the great outdoors and your desire to stay fit and healthy, and try out some new ways of working out.

“Lack of flexibility is just an excuse for someone who doesn’t know what yoga’s about.”
— Hansa Knox Johnson

Pilates: Strong to the Core

As a system, Pilates really fits in with the natural health frame of mind: It’s about nurturing the body and its movements from the inside out, says Kevin A. Bowen, executive director and chief executive officer of the Pilates Method Alliance. “Basically, Pilates is about whole-body health; exercising in such a way that it produces functional strength and flexibility,” he says. Pilates founder Joseph H. Pilates developed the program as an exercise technique that required complete control of the mind, body and spirit.

The son of a gymnast father and natural health crusading mother, Joseph Pilates was born and raised in Germany and immigrated to the United States in 1926. During World War I, Pilates and his brothers, acrobatic performers in England at the time, were placed in an internment camp because they were German. There, Pilates developed his mat program—which he dubbed “contrology”—so he could work out inside the barracks. He taught others he was living with, and when the Spanish influenza pandemic swept through Europe, Pilates and his exercise partners stayed healthy. Noticing this, British officials later released Pilates from the internment camp and used his mat system to help rehabilitate young, injured soldiers.

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