During undergraduate and graduate school I had access to very nice, state of the art gyms at the various schools I attended, which I frequently took advantage of. As part of a way to release and reset after long hours spent in classrooms, my classmates and I sought out movement together. We trained for marathons, skied, slack lined, played soccer, joined a flag football league, rode bikes, and walked.
But, when we weren’t on the trails training for a race or making some friendly game or sport…unfriendly, we were cross training in the gym. We would take turns creating a workout for the day, which always provided us with a new way to challenge our body and our personal training skills. We would try the latest workout from a magazine or complicate an exercise we were discussing in class.
We had fun during our cross training sessions, but we preferred being outdoors, in the elements, if able. The weather wasn’t always welcoming, but we were always welcomed by the outdoors when we said yes to its continuous invitation. Thankfully, we moved in groups, because then we all were sweaty, wet, and smelly together. No one would say that someone else smelled bad, because they weren’t sure if it was them who actually smelled bad!
Now that I am out of the university environment, it has be challenging to seek out that same level of creativity with movement. Movement can be a lot of things, like daunting, challenging, invigorating, exhausting, solitary, connectedness, but it shouldn’t be boring.
There are so many options within most communities that offer free amenities or opportunities to move more and differently. Read the list I have collected below. Do any of the spark your interest? I played soccer in high school and recreationally in college, so I am hoping to get a group of friends together to play a friendly game on a Saturday morning!
These opportunities are a great way to sneak a new way of movement into your week, without being forced inside a gym to achieve them. Get out and trying something new. Report back here with your thoughts and comments about the excitement and/or challenge that came with the new scene and skill!
Remember, the point of this activity is not to be a weekend warrior; going out full force will result in a high chance of injury! Take is slow. Warm up your body prior to participating and limit the time you spend moving the first time…the true test will be to see how you will feel days afterwards!
Mostly Free Ways to Move Differently Within Your Community:
- Tennis: tennis courts are splattered within neighborhoods and offer a free way to move! Borrow a racquet from a neighbor or friend-and ask them to join while you’re at it!
- Soccer fields: When the local club team isn’t running in circles on the field, have a ball! Playing soccer is a great way to have fun while running sprints (maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned that)! Chasing a ball gives you something to focus on, other than running. It is also a great way to add lateral movement to your routine, which is often ignored.
- Playgrounds: You don’t have to be parents to utilize a playground, but with two young girls, we are at different playgrounds all the time. Now, I find ways to challenge myself at the playground, even just for a few minutes…whether that means attempting the monkey bars (when did they become so hard?!), barefoot work on ladders and stairs, challenge my vestibular system on all those spinning contraptions , or even something as simple as swinging, which can challenge your core!
- Walking paths, biking or hiking trail: Do a google search for parks in your area, I bet there are more than you are aware of. This is a great way to get outdoors and explore your area. Many places have tree coverage, which make this a great option for the summer sun and rain!
- Parks: kick a ball, throw a frisbee, or play can jam! My husband recently played can jam at the beach for the morning of a friend’s bachelor party and thought it was a great way to get people interacting.
- Beach: take any of those activities you play at a park and challenge yourself a little more by playing on sand! Running barefoot in the sand challenges all of your stabilizer muscles, strengthens your feet, and your ability for your to react faster when needed.
- Volleyball: Find a court on a beach, at a rec center or simply play in a field. Either way it is so much fun and naturally has you working on squatting, reaching, and adding lateral movements to your activities.
- Swimming Pools-practice different strokes, doggie paddle, swim laps, water aerobics! Sometimes there is free swim, but if not, it is often a small fee to get you in the water. A great option for all seasons because some communities have indoor and outdoor pools!
- Disc Golf Course: If you haven’t been looking for a disc golf course, you probably won’t know where one is, because they are easy to overlook! However, disc golf is a fun way to add a competitive component to frisbee-and the investment to start is manageable. If you search on google “disc golf near me” (and have your location saved on your computer) it will come up with options to pay near you! Link attached to two different price point disc golfs (and these) that we have and love!
Comment below with more ideas on how to move differently in your community!
*Feel good in that body of yours*
-Dr. Autumn Hanson, PT, DPT