By Judy Torel
With the warm weather finally here, many opt to take their workouts outside to enjoy the fresh air and beautiful weather. With so many choices of outdoor activities, which ones can be substituted for the workouts we do indoors? Will hiking keep the muscle tone from your winter strength-training regime? Is biking good to do to help develop the cardiovascular system?
Read on to discover what outdoor activities benefit what body parts and systems. You will even get some tips on where to go in the Capital District for each type of activity!
Upstate New York is a virtual playland of hiking routes. Hiking is great for conditioning the muscles of your lower body. Going up hill will give you the results of lunges and squats in the gym but require much less psychological discipline. Hiking down hill causes your muscles to work in what is known as eccentric contractions. This is when muscles are lengthening while carrying weight overloads. Eccentric contractions have been linked to higher strength gains. In addition, recent research has revealed that the eccentric contractions of hiking down hill actually helps to keep blood sugar levels in check, thereby reducing the risk of diabetes.
The Adirondack Mountain Club has organized hikes year round with the majority scheduled during the summer months. To learn more, visit their website at www.adk.org.
A great day hike that is not too difficult is Kaaterskill Falls in the northeastern Catskills. A path leads to a 260-foot waterfall, the highest in New York. Located just a half mile from NY 23A, this hike is easily accessible from The Capital District.
The Capital District and the surrounding areas have wonderful places to bike! It’s great for your cardiovascular system and will provide you with a non-impact option of training that is joint-friendly. You can choose relatively flat areas to ride and maintain a comfortable heart rate or a hillier route that will challenge your maximum aerobic capacity while getting a tremendous workout for your legs. Biking is also good for conditioning the core muscles of your torso if you concentrate on maintaining good form while standing on the pedals and climbing hills. You even get an upper body workout when you have to stand and use your arms to stabilize your body.
The Mohawk Hudson Cycle Club is the area’s leading association for road and mountain bikers. Every week throughout the summer the club offers a variety of club rides rated from casual to quick. Rated on road conditions and fitness level, there is a club ride for everyone. Contact the club at www.webmhcc.org for a ride schedule.
If riding on the road with cars makes you anxious you will enjoy riding your bike on the Mohawk-Hudson Bikeway, a 21-mile route that overlooks the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers. You can access the trail at the Corning Preserve in Albany. The trail runs through Rotterdam Junction and Schenectady County and is only open to non-motorized vehicles.
Rock climbing is one of the fastest growing activities for summertime and our area is not lacking in places to practice. If you are looking for an outdoor sport that will take your upper body weight workouts to another level, then rock climbing is your sport! Although the lower body significantly contributes to the power used to climb, the upper back and biceps in particular receive an unbelievable workout. Conditioning the core is all the rage in fitness centers and there is no better outdoor activity for core conditioning as climbing. The torso muscles are in constant overload as you work to find foot and hand holds so that you can ascend your chosen rock face.
The Albany Indoor Rock Gym located on Vatrano Road in Albany is a great place to practice indoors until you get the hang of it. When you are ready, you can take part in a day trip to local climbing areas organized by the staff of AIR. Visit www.airrockgym.com to learn more.
Just south of the Capital District is the eastern Mecca of climbing—the Shawangunks—where rock climbers from around the world come to climb. Contact High Angle Adventures for supported climbs of the Gunks at www.highangle.com.
These are just a few of the many outdoor activities available to us in the Capital District. Swimming in the various city run pools and local lakes and rivers, horseback riding, wind surfing, sailing, canoeing, kayaking, hang gliding, rafting, and water skiing are other outdoor activities that have fitness benefits while offering an alternative to indoor gym workouts. Try to enjoy a mixture of the season’s fitness offerings this summer in between gym workouts!
Judy Torel, owner of Judy Torel’s Sweat Shop, is available by appointment and phone for lifestyle coaching. You can contact her at 459.6942, www.judytorelsweatshop.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. She is also the fitness consultant for WNYT-News Channel 13.