If your gym is constantly busy, why not take a break from it and work out at home? More specifically, work out on the sidewalk in front of your house. The U.S. Department of Transportation has set guidelines for sidewalk construction and measurements. Therefore, they offer a unique and accessible training area for exercise. When exercising on a sidewalk, make sure that it is not in a high-traffic area, which are not suitable or safe for exercise.
Use dynamic warm-up exercises to prepare the muscles and joints for more intense activity. Dynamic warm-up exercises focus on joints because they work to increase your functional range of motion. To warm up and loosen the joints of your upper and lower body, begin by standing in the middle of a sidewalk square. Face the outer edge of the sidewalk and stretch your arms wide, out to the sides. Take a large step to right, keeping your toes facing forward. Bend your knees, as if to sit back into a chair. As you lower your body, bring your arms in across your chest, as if to hug yourself. As you straighten your knees and stand, extend your arms back out to the sides and step your right foot back in. Repeat the motion with your left leg; perform five repetitions for each side.
Agility and Balance Training
The evenly-spaced lines in concrete sidewalks create a natural horizontal ladder. Agility and balance training is all about quick reflexes and agile movements. Begin by standing with your feet together with a sidewalk line directly to the right of your right foot. Picture each dividing line as a ladder rung that you're jumping over. Position yourself on the balls of your feet, then jump over the first line into the middle of the next square with your right foot. Then immediately jump with your left foot. Stay on the balls of your feet and make each jump light and quick. Jump over 10 to 15 sidewalk lines. Perform the same number of leaps back to the starting position, this time starting with the left leg.
Power exercises are typically performed explosively, according to fitness guru Paul Collins in "Power Training." Power jumps are two-footed hops that explode off the ground, vertically into the air. To practice, begin in a standing position, facing the length of the sidewalk. Have a sidewalk line directly in front of your feet. Begin with your arms straight above your head. Swing your arms down by your sides and lower into a squat position. Extending your knees and swinging your arms up, jump up and forward with both feet into the next sidewalk square. Jump through five squares.
The sidewalk curb is a useful step for stretching the calf muscles after a lower-body workout. To stretch your calf muscles out, stand on the street facing the curb side of the sidewalk. Place the heel of your right foot on the street, close to the edge of the curb. Rest the ball of your foot on the edge of the curb, toes facing up. Straighten your right knee, maintaining the same foot position in relation to the curb. Feel a slight pull in the muscle at the back of your lower leg. Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat with the opposite leg.
When running along a strip of sidewalk, protect your lower body joints by wearing running shoes with cushioned soles. The added padding helps to absorb the shock, so you can pound the pavement safely for longer periods. Before a run, tell someone where your are going and how long you expect to be gone. Running with a partner or a dog is safer than running alone. In addition, run against traffic, so that you're able to see oncoming vehicles. Stop and look both ways before crossing any street and avoid wearing headphones so you can be aware of surrounding vehicles and people. If you're running at dawn or dusk, reflective material increases your visibility. Finally, be courteous to others by sharing the sidewalk space.
- U.S. Department of Transportation: Federal Highway Administration: Sidewalk Design Guidelines and Existing Practices
- Dynamic Stretching; Mark Kovacs
- Training for Speed, Agility, and Quickness; Lee E. Brown and Vance A. Ferrigno
- WorkoutMD.com: Running Warm Up: Calf Stretch
- Dick's Sporting Goods: Selecting a Running Shoe
- Road Runners Club of America: General Running Safety Tips
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images