Ten Ways to Exercise Outdoors in Coeur d'Alene

It's not that there's anything wrong with going to the gym, but most of us just don't like to do it. You make excuses about lack of time, a microbiologist's dream case study on the equipment, high fees, and difficulty using the provided equipment. But let's face it, the real reason you don't want to go, is because most gyms just aren't that fun. You go there, torture yourself for a period of time, go home, and plop yourself in front of the couch with a six pack of beer--the only kind of six pack you're likely to have on your stomach anytime soon.

Instead, why not try outdoors exercise? Coeur d'Alene offers a huge number of outdoor opportunities that can trim you up and keep you fit.

1) Run

Running along Coeur d'Alene Lake, photo by 29k ProductionsSure, this is the go-to thing when you're trying to get in shape. Everyone says they're going to start running, but now is the time to really do it. Coeur d'Alene offers a number of great paths perfect for walking, jogging, and running. One of the best places to run is the Prairie Trail. The Prairie trail starts at Riverstone Park and runs northwest for four miles, ending at Huetter Rd. Several of the parks also have trails suitable for exercise, including Coeur d'Alene City Park, Bluegrass Park, Riverstone Park, Landings Park, and others. There is also a track available at Person Field, and of course, the Centennial Trail offers a great view as you walk or run alongside the river and lake.

Running increases your aerobic capacity and endurance, strengthens the muscles and bones in your legs, stimulates weight loss, decreases stress levels, releases endorphins, lowers blood pressure, lowers cholesterol, and benefits your cardiovascular system. It also helps give you the necessary "after burn" so desired for burning calories even after you've stopped your workout.

2) Bike

Biking the Centennial Trail, photo by 29k ProductionsBiking is another easy exercise to get into, and in the long run it can save you money as well as benefitting your health. In addition to the Prairie Trail and Centennial Trail, Coeur d'Alene has a BMX Park at Cherry Hill and next to the Skate Park in downtown. There are also a number of bike lanes along several of the major roads throughout town, so you can have a lot of variety in your rides. During the summer months, a lot of people in Coeur d'Alene take advantage of the opportunity to improve their health and their wallets at the same time by biking to work instead of driving. One way to get motivated to ride your bike more is to challenge yourself to bike to work a certain number of times each week while the weather is good.

Bicycling helps strengthen your core as you maintain stability to remain upright. Your abdominal muscles, hips, and lower back work together and the muscles are strengthened. This can even help alleviate lower back pain! Bicycling strengthens your leg muscles, and benefits your entire cardiovascular system. You can burn about 45 calories per mile at 10mph on a bike, depending on your weight, wind, terrain, and other factors.

3) Hike

Hiking Tubbs Hill with Golden Retriever, photo by 29k ProductionsCoeur d'Alene has more than its share of hiking opportunities for people of varying ability. Hiking trails are available on Tubbs Hill--including a great workout for the calves when you hike the upper trail--and on Canfield Mountain. A shorter, easier hike can be found at the end of the Centennial Trail at Higgens Point. Under the 2012 Natural Open Space Management Plan even more hiking opportunities will be opened up in the near future!

Hiking improves the strength and tone of your leg muscles, and can help you lose weight by burning up to 370 calories per hour in a 154 lb person. Hiking builds muscle and cardiovascular endurance and like other aerobic exercises gives you psychological benefits such as a feeling of relaxation and enhanced sense of well-being from the endorphins exercise releases into your system.

4) Swim

Model James Christian in Lake Coeur d'Alene, photo by 29k ProductionsWhether you choose to dive off the rocks on Tubbs Hill, go for a dip at the CdA City Beach, or swim at a calm area of the Spokane River like Black Bay in Post Falls, our area has plenty of natural bodies of water for you to use for swimming. Another great swimming area is Honeysuckle Beach on Hayden Lake, though I've seen that beach more crowded than the City Beach. Do remember that you swim at your own risk in these areas. City Beach does have lifeguards on duty during the day throughout the summer.

Swimming is an activity that can be a lifelong sport, benefiting nearly every aspect of your health, because it works practically all the muscles in your body if you vary your strokes. Swimming strengthens and tones your muscles, especially those in your torso and arms. It is also a very low-impact sport compared to running or cycling which may irritate past knee injuries, arthritis, or other joint stressors. When submerged in water all the way to your neck, your body only has to bear 10 percent of its own weight, the other 90% is supported by the water, making swimming a great place to work out, especially if you carry extra weight or have a joint condition.

5) Yoga

Coeur d'Alene Sunrise, photo by 29k ProductionsYoga isn't something that has to be confined to a mat on a studio floor. By getting out into nature, you can experience yoga as it was originally intended, giving you access to a world of sensations as you exercise. Find a special place where you feel relaxed outdoors, take a few ujjaui breaths to relax, listen to the calming sounds of nature around you, and become part of the environment as you practice yoga. Outdoors yoga will help stimulate your senses, enhance your focus, and allow you to connect with nature. Doing yoga in nature allows you to make little fun adjustments to your asanas as you practice with your feet in the sand or on uneven ground. Some yoga studios run outdoor classes, but if you're going solo, there are many nice areas on local beaches and in local parks that make for a relaxing place to practice yoga. Some people even use the public docks so they can practice right on the water!

Yoga is a non-aerobic form of exercise that helps put you in touch with your body. It helps you stretch your muscles, increases the range of motion in your joints, and helps improve the way your ligaments, tendons, and muscles work together. Yoga will also help your posture and breathing by developing core strength and using deep, controlled breathing. And of course, one of the greatest benefits most people see out of yoga is a release of stress and a calmer outlook on life.

6) Golf

Coeur d'Alene Resort Golf Course, photo by 29k ProductionsBy far the most famous golf course in Coeur d'Alene is the Resort's, and you get the opportunity to shoot for the world's only floating green. That's pretty cool! But the Coeur d'Alene area is studded with other great golf courses, including Ponderosa Springs, Black Rock, Hayden Lake Country Club, The Highlands, Avondale, and Twin Lakes Village. There is also the Coeur d'Alene Golf Club's Course, an 18 hole public course.

Many people don't think of golf as having a lot of health benefits, but it is estimated that a single round of golf while carrying your clubs can burn over 400 calories, and has the same health benefits as a full 45 minute aerobics class! Additionally, the repetition of swinging your club strengthens and tones your arms while at the same time improving your fine muscle control throughout your torso. Golf also has benefits for players' hand-eye coordination. Another benefit of golf is that it helps stimulate your brain function through coordination, concentration, and visualization.

7) Disc Golf

Bluegrass Disc Golf, photo by 29k ProductionsThis is one of my personal favorites, and another exercise disguised as fun. Disc golfing at Bluegrass Park is a relaxing experience in a park environment that is easily accessible for people of most abilities. It is also a great beginner's course, letting you learn how to control your disc throws without the risk of losing one. A more advanced course is available at Cherry Hill Park, bringing you a variety of terrain and a much greater challenge for your disc golfing skills. This is a great family or friends activity to get everyone outside and moving around, having a good time. Disc golf is a very accessible sport, and according to health-bytes.com, over 90% of disc golfers play at least once per week, demonstrating that this is an easy way to start exercising and keep exercising.

Just a half hour of disc golf with the combination of throwing and walking is estimated to burn nearly 250 calories in a 200 pound individual. On a course like Cherry Hill with its variety of uphill, downhill, and flat terrain, you are working out all the muscles in your legs, as well as the muscles in your throwing arm. Disc golf helps enhance hand-eye coordination and fine muscle control in your arms, as well as strengthening your core. Your skills in concentration also increase by learning new shots and finding ways around obstacles. Disc golfing promotes a combination of physical and mental abilities with very little risk of personal injury.

8) Basketball

Coeur d'Alene Basketball Shootout, photo by 29k ProductionsThirteen of Coeur d'Alene's parks have basketball courts, allowing ample opportunity for you to get outside for a pick-up game. Most of these courts are located right in community parks such as Shadduck Lane, Bluegrass, and Landings parks, but others are in the larger parks, such as the two full courts located in City Park. In addition to the courts at parks, most of Coeur d'Alene's schools have publicly-available basketball courts outside of school hours. Basketball is accessible by men, women, and children of all ages as a fun way to pack a lot of exercise into a short period of time.

Basketball has a number of positive effects on your health, especially as a cardiovascular workout. As you run and jump, you work your heart and lungs, increasing both your aerobic capacity and endurance. These activities also work out your full body. Basketball also increases your coordination level as your feet, legs, arms, and eyes all work together. Mental benefits include an increase in coordination and social skills, and perhaps best of all for children, it is a confidence booster. Kids who play basketball learn how to be more assertive, since one of the goals of the game is to steal the ball from the other team, and the only way to do that is to get in there and grab it.

9) Baseball/Softball

Real Life Softball, photo by 29k ProductionsAnother game for the great outdoors that helps enhance your teamwork is baseball. Coeur d'Alene's Recreation Department offers girls softball and boys baseball each year with registration in May, and league play beginning in July. The department also runs a summer softball league for adults, offering coed, men's, women's, men's church, and coed church divisions. Registration starts in early spring, and practices begin in April with the league running throughout the summer. Coeur d'Alene offers several public baseball and softball fields, including Memorial Field, Person Field, McEuen Park, Ramsey Park, and the Canfield Sports Complex. There are also plans to build a new baseball park at Cherry Hill.

Baseball and softball contribute to your overall fitness, and it requires a low level of initial physical conditioning with long periods of standing and waiting, punctuated by the occasional burst of activity. Throwing and hitting the ball increases your hand-eye coordination and your arm strength and muscle control. Running around the bases or to catch the ball improves your cardiovascular fitness and helps condition your legs. Baseball and softball players gain a sense of pride and team spirit through the incredible amount of teamwork and coordination required to successfully play the game.

10) Tennis

Landings Tennis & Basketball Courts, photo by 29k ProductionsAnother activity offered at several of Coeur d'Alene's parks is tennis. Tennis courts are available at Cherry Hill Park (6 courts), North Idaho College (4 courts), Northshire Park (3 courts) Ramsey Park (3 courts), and Landings Park (2 courts). Most of these courts are in good repair with few deadspots, and some courts offer a wall or backboard for solo practice of technique.

Tennis is a physically demanding sport that improves your aerobic fitness, speed, and body coordination. Your agility is also increased, because you are forced to change directions as many as five times in ten seconds during a point. With the hundreds of small corrections, stops, starts, and changes of direction in a match, your dynamic balance is also improved. Tennis works out your legs and arms giving you improved bone strength and density while increasing your flexibility due to the constant stretching and maneuvering required to return the ball. Additionally, your hand-eye coordination is improved and your mental fitness grows as you learn to manage mistakes and compete at a one-on-one basis.


Beach Volleyball Kiss, photo by 29k ProductionsIn addition to these ten great outdoor exercise opportunities in Coeur d'Alene, our amazing city offers several other fun activities, such as volleyball, soccer, football, lacrosse, and ultimate frisbee. You have beach volleyball at the NIC beach, and (bring your own net) volleyball courts at several of the local parks. The wide-open fields at the Canfield Sports Complex, Coeur d'Alene Soccer Complex, and even at some of the other parks give ample opportunity for playing field-type sports.

You can also find ample opportunities for bouldering, rock climbing, kayaking, water skiing, and wakeboarding in the Coeur d'Alene vicinity.

Coeur d'Alene is home to so many fun outdoor sports that allow you to get out in the sun and natural beauty of this area, there is almost no need to visit a gym for "boring" exercise routines. In 2011 the University of Wisconsin rated Kootenai County the seventh healthiest county in Idaho, and we have been in the top 10 healthiest counties for the last three years.

Want to learn more about Coeur d'Alene's parks and the exercise opportunities available in each? Check out our Parks page.

If you have another outdoor exercise idea, or would like to talk about one of these, please feel free to leave a comment. Or better yet, create an account on LoveCdA and start your own personal blog!

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Rock Creek Golf Club Idaho

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The impressive course, designed by the highly respected course architect Tom Weiskoph, is an 18 hole, 7,130 yard, par 72 course that includes a modest club house, a full-service restaurant, bar and separate wine tasting facility. The world class driving range, short game practice course, fully outfitted pro shop and state-of-the-art maintenance facility fully serve the golfing needs of members.

The majestic beauty of the forested hills and the pristine serenity of the glacial lake waters have earned Lake Coeur d’ Alene a stellar reputation as one of the world’s most beautiful lakes. Fed by the roaring, Coeur d’ Alene, Saint Maries and Saint Joe Whitewater Rivers, Coeur d’ Alene Lake has 135 miles of shoreline. Recreational opportunities abound. Enjoy the wet and wild side: take a serene lake cruise, select a guided trip with a world renowned rafting outfitter, rent a personal watercraft, go it alone in your kayak. Mountain biking, world-class fly fishing, hiking trails, and skiing are minutes away.

The Coeur d’ Alene Lake area offers three ski resorts with vertical drops of 2,400 feet, over 131 runs and more than 4,700 acres of some of the West’s driest powder. Silver Mountain Resort, Mt. Spokane Ski Resort and Switzer Mountain are close and convenient.

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By the way, this blog is not

By the way, this blog is not meant to denigrate any of our excellent local gyms, merely to show the HUGE number of options we have available for outdoor exercise. :)

Our local gyms actually do offer many outdoor activities, as well as their indoor facilities. For example, Peak Fitness on Ironwood has both indoor and outdoor tennis courts, and some gyms offer outdoor swimming lessons, summer "boot camps" and other structured outdoor activities.

The city itself also has more than just baseball and softball leagues available. Visit the Coeur d'Alene Department of Recreation page for more information on those activities.