The Scranton Times Tribune reports that the typical American spends 90 percent of his life indoors -- a habit that tends to correlate with sedentary behavior. Often, just spending time outside results in higher activity. Kids, for example, are twice as active outside as inside, and most people report higher activity levels during the warmer months. Spending time outside also improves concentration, healing, breathing and mental well-being. A few activity ideas can help you enjoy exercising outside with others.
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Schools, camps and businesses use team-building exercises to build camaraderie, increase cooperation and improve problem-solving skills. Many team-building games emphasize physical skills, such as climbing, throwing, jumping and running. For a group fitness program, choose games that require sustained periods of aerobic activity or target certain muscles. Examples include jump rope games, climbing wall challenges, tag variations and balance activities. Team-building games, because they tend to require mental effort as well as physical, may help some participants maintain interest in the exercise program.
Make group fitness more exciting by planning an active outdoor adventure. This could be a whitewater kayaking class, canoe and kayak expedition, mountain or road biking excursion, outdoor rock climbing lessons or a challenging hike. If you facilitate a long-term group fitness program, you could use these adventures as an active reward that reinforces wellness themes. Intermittent outings that are physically challenging may also show participants how much their efforts are paying off.
Use a park, field or other suitable space to create an outdoor circuit workout. Focus on whole-body conditioning or create a variety of workouts that alternately target strength, endurance, balance, flexibility, agility, sports skills or particular areas of the body. Circuit workouts allow group members to proceed at their own skill level, which may help keep everyone interested. Bringing such training outside provides targeted focus without that hamster-on-a-wheel feeling some people experience inside the gym. You will, however, have to make creative use of playground equipment, fences, steps and other existing features in the place you choose. Consider parks that have equipment stations set up along a path or pack a bag of lightweight equipment, such as resistance bands, balls, rope and small cones.
Try using traditional sports, such as basketball, softball, soccer or ultimate Frisbee to provide a less structured group fitness activity. The benefit here is that the exercise will feel more like play. On the downside, more talented athletes may take over the game and prevent weaker players from getting a good workout. Alternatively, you could borrow drill activities for these sports to create a more targeted workout that is also fun.