Contributing Writer: Alex Deslandes
Crisp fresh air is around the corner. It’s the quality of Spring air that makes us spry and jubilant. We want to be outside, we need to be outside. At Harrison Park, the triumphant return of nature’s best dressed seasonal green trees welcomes those who come for an activation of their muscles. Consistency is the key to keeping us feeling younger and alive. Using the large open field, there are plenty of opportunities to build a routine under the sun at Harrison Park.
Start off simple.
Harrison Park has a loop that measures out to a mile and goes around the park. Starting with the easiest activity to get the blood flowing, enjoy the average 20-minute mile walk, and meet fellow steppers along that path. Looking to intensify that output? A 3-mile walk can help you lose some weight with some consistency. An hour’s walk spent at Harrison Park can be the start of a new or the return to a healthy lifestyle.
While getting outside is easy, finding reasons to stay outside can be a challenge for some. But, now with gadgets in our ear that allow us to be instantly plugged into our favorite artist, news channel, or podcast; these walks become nothing more than a great listening experience. So change your routine today and if one day you decide to increase the difficulty, try a light speed jog and beat your mile time more and more each day.
Step up your game.
After a couple of laps around the groovy curved path, incorporate a session of squats. Squatting not only helps build muscles but can help you cut your run time! An important rule to keep: squats are more about form than anything else.
- Stand with your legs slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and your toes pointed outwards. This is for balance.
- Keep your back straight and your eyes forward. This helps maintain the balance.
- Slowly bend your knees to a ninety-degree angle so your thighs are parallel to the floor.
- Slowly raise, maintaining that form you came down with.
You might sense a tightness in certain parts of your body. Starting with the legs, your quads, calves, glutes (posterior), and even abs are activated during squats. After time and more strength training, these will become noticeably easy.
Challenge yourself to see the number of reps you are most comfortable with achieving each time without compromise to the form. This helps build accountability for consistency and allows you to train to use this both as a way to run faster and build muscle and flexibility. And we want to avoid the same maneuver each time there are variations in which you can have fun with squatting.
Sumo Squats involve keeping the legs further apart and toes pointed out and repeating the squat process. Squeeze as you go back up. These will activate your inner thighs along with your glutes. And if the spring weather has us feeling spry in our knees, launch that squat into a Jump Squat. Following the same format of the basic squat, you will safely jump as you raise your back from squatting down. Keeping your abdominal muscles tight, land softly back onto the ground and lower your body back down to its starting position. Repeat.
Now let’s get our bodies on the grass.
Earthing or the act of physically touching the earth has many benefits as the Earth’s electrons flow through your body and can positively affect your mental state, something needed for our next activity. As you lay on the grass, switch over to a plank position.
Planks can be done in many variations for beginners, intermediate, and experts. Starting with beginner, lay on your stomach and hold yourself up with your forearm parallel to the ground and elbows 90 degrees of your shoulder. Keep your knees and toes to the ground to allow yourself to ease into the movements of holding yourself up as you tighten your core.
Core strengthening will help build your endurance for your runs and your squats. If you keep being consistent we can increase your difficulty level and bring your knees up from off the ground. You will disconnect from the earth for a while but force yourself to dig deeper into your upper body endurance.
Close your eyes and just breathe.
Harrison Park’s open field allows for the fresh air to permeate through your lungs and course through the rest of your body. The pleasures of putting your body through pain. And for the experts of planks, challenge your body and alternate lifting your legs for added strength training.
So run on over to Harrison Park and heal your body with nature.