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Commit to Fit: Taking Your Workout Outdoors

In the dead of winter, when that white stuff we like to call snow covers the earth and creates a so-called winter wonderland, most of us just want to curl up by the fire and sip on a warm cup of cocoa. We indulge ourselves in all the tasty sweets the holidays have to offer and slip into our favourite pair of sweats when the consequences finally set in. But in the midst of our hibernation from the outdoors, we often leave behind our motivation to stay fit. Here are a few outdoor fitness ideas to help you shrug off those winter blahs.


Sometimes the problem with running is simply not knowing what route to take. And when your same old routine leads you to memorize the holes in the pavement, it can be hard to escape the hypnosis.

Mooney’s Bay, which is just a short distance south of campus, offers a great pathway for running, as well as beautiful scenery. Its hills also make for a great cardio workout. Force yourself to keep a steady pace all the way up Mooney’s highest peak, and run across the beach for an extra leg and butt workout on the way back. Running on this soft sand will be easier on your knees than pavement, but you’ll have to work extra hard to keep those feet moving.


Ottawa offers a beautiful pathway for runners and cyclists along the Rideau Canal, and the best part is that it’s located right in Carleton’s backyard. Students have easy access to this free pathway which runs all the way past Parliament and the Ottawa River. This bike ride is a great way to get your fitness in for the day. Avid cyclists can take the pathway all the way to Quebec and bike through the scenic Gatineau Park. Colonel By Drive, which wraps around Carleton’s campus, is even closed to traffic on Sunday mornings from May to September, so cyclists can exercise safely.

Don’t have a bike? You can rent a bicycle through https://capital.bixi.com/or http://www.rentabike.ca, and check out Ottawa’s cycling routes at http://www.canadascapital.gc.ca/places-to-visit/parks-paths/things-to-do/cycling-capital-pathways.


It may seem a little elementary, but skipping is actually an amazing cardio workout. Its high intensity gets your heart rate pumping quickly, and a mere 15-20 minute workout can burn more calories than running. It’s also a great toning exercise, and works both your upper and lower body simultaneously. Don’t be fooled though. Skipping can be pretty tough if you’re just starting out, especially after a lazy winter. But with a bit of practice and dedication, you’ll begin to feel the benefits. You can try different variations to spice things up, such as spinning the rope backwards, jumping on one foot at a time, or even crossing the rope as you jump.

Park Bench

Instead of dishing out money for the gym, use a park bench or outdoor bleachers to get your workout in. You can use them to work on your upper and lower body strength, or even your cardio. Run up and down your school bleachers for a good warm-up. For strength, you can do a few sets of pushups, keeping your body at an angle against the bench. Dips are also a great way to strengthen your arms; they are essentially backwards pushups. To work your lower body, step quickly onto the bench with one foot, followed by the other, and back down. Keep these exercises up and you’ll be fit in no time!

Monkey Bars

For most of us ladies who like to work out casually, chin ups are probably next to impossible. But there’s more you can do with that chin-up bar than just cling desperately by the tips of your fingers. You can use a set of monkey bars at a park (Mooney’s Bay) for a simpler abdominal or upper body workout. For example, grab the bar and pull yourself up, and draw your knees towards your chest to work your abs. This is a great alternative to using the gym when the weather is nice. Or, revive your inner child by simply doing a few laps across the monkey bars like old times. It may seem easy, but you’re sure to feel the burn if you can hang on long enough.
It can be tough to get back into the swing of things, but with warm weather almost upon us, these exercises are the perfect excuse NOT to make excuses! Grab a workout buddy, or go it alone. Either way, these fitness ideas will help motivate you to kick those bad winter habits and enjoy the many exercise benefits of the great outdoors.

Don't forget to check out our previous Commit to Fit blog posts! 

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