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It’s Wednesday once again, and that means its time for some exercise advice. Week-night-workouts are a must to stay in shape, but after a workday exercising can feel more like a chore than a healthy habit. Get excited for this weekend, because Saturday and Sunday are days to enjoy time at home and extra time to exercise. Grab your friends and even your dog, because this Saturday it’s time to kick your workout routine up a notch. There’s one completely free exercise resource that is often overlooked: the great outdoors.

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Photo by Caroline Alkire

During these cold winter months the thought of running outside is daunting enough to make the toughest athlete cringe, but when it’s impossible to afford a treadmill or a gym membership, the outdoors may be the only option left.

Personal Tip: Check out these simple ways to stay warm during an outdoor workout, even when it’s freezing outside.

Who knew sprinting up that hill was actually worth it? According to Women’s Health Magazine website, running outdoors can have a healthier effect on the body than running on a treadmill. Reaching the dreaded two-mile mark may feel like a breeze on the treadmill, and Women’s Health says this is because the treadmill belt actually helps the runner along. Women’s Health also warns that treadmills can hurt a runner’s form, and distract runners from concentrating on their performance. While some gym-goers may still swear by the treadmill, utilizing the nature trails in your area is free and arguably healthier.

There are various activities you can do on an outdoor trail or in a park. Jogging is always an option, and the iPhone has apps that track distance and speed. My favorites are Nike Plus, RunKeeper, and MyRun GPS. All three of these are available in the app store, and are free. Running with a friend on the weekend is also encouraged, so crank up your iPhone music, and get to work.

Taking the dog out for a stroll around the neighborhood is a great way to work out, even if you want to take a day to rest. If you think walking outside is boring, spice it up with these easy tips.

Biking and hiking outdoors are fun ways to get that workout in. Bike rides can build endurance, and parks and trails often have ledges or benches on which runners can do abdominal exercises or pushups.

So embrace those sunny, weekend afternoons with friends and family. Slip on your running shoes and hit your nearest nature trail. Whether your running, walking, or biking, the opportunities are endlessly free.

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P.S. Check out this awesome website if you need help finding bike trails near your home.

Need some extra motivation? Check out this video!

Video made by Caroline Alkire

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