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Virtual Outdoor Workouts: Scenic Videos for Indoor Cycling, Running and Rowing

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Watch scenic exercise videos for a virtual outdoor workout.

Watch scenic exercise videos for a virtual outdoor workout.

Indoor Cardio Workouts Shouldn't Be Boring

Doing the same thing over and over again is not exciting or interesting. If you don't want your cardio workout to be boring then keep changing it. Change the intensity, speed or background. Challenge yourself and try new things so you feel that you are accomplishing something.

Add variety to your cardio workouts to make them fun. The easiest way to add some excitement is to get outside and actually go somewhere. While cycling outside the bike ride is always changing because of the terrain, weather and scenery. Indoors, people often try to make cardio less boring by watching TV and exercising at the same time.

Watching TV While Working Out

Walking outside while looking at a screen is not a good idea. People walk into things or in front of moving vehicles. Looking at a screen while walking or running on a treadmill is a good idea. You can entertain yourself by watching TV while you are running in place.

When I run on my elliptical trainer I would watch a movie. One of my goals is to work out while watching Zack Snyder's Justice League movie. It is four hours long. The problem with watching TV while working out is that it is a distraction. Watching a movie can cause me to run at a slower pace—I focus more on watching the TV show or movie than on my workout.

Virtual Outdoor Running

I went for my first virtual jog while playing Wii Fit. The controller tried to keep track of my jogging pace while the game displayed an outdoor scene on my TV. Virtual motion-controlled workouts need a device that tracks your movements, an app and a screen that displays your progress.

Some smart exercise machines change the resistance based on the virtual terrain. For a more immersive experience, you could exercise while wearing a headset. Virtual reality workouts can be almost as good as exercising outside. You could travel the world in your living room.

The main disadvantages with VR and motion control are that you need to buy the equipment, the selection of routes is limited and they use video game graphics or video clips.

Short clip from my first bike ride with a GoPro camera.

Short clip from my first bike ride with a GoPro camera.

Outdoor Workout Videos

Cycling is my favorite hobby but I rarely used my stationary exercise bike. After recording my bike rides I got the idea to watch outdoor running and cycling videos while I am exercising in my living room. Instead of staring at a wall or watching TV, I watched a scenic exercise video.

With motion-controlled workouts, you set the pace. You are the controller. While watching a regular exercise video, the pace is set by the person that made the recording. You can follow along like you would with yoga or cardio boxing. Try to match the outdoor workout. Increase the resistance when going up hills and sprint when they sprint.

Exercise Like You Are the Person in the Video

If you can watch TV while you exercise then you could be watching workout videos that encourage you to go faster and last longer. It is like you are exercising with someone. There are hundreds of free first-person exercise videos and you can make your own.

Watch people walking, running, cycling or rowing. For a step-up workout, you could watch someone walking up a mountain. The video is a guide. Go at your own pace and rest as needed. Burn calories and build muscle while you are enjoying the scenery.

Exercise bike workout while watching a cycling video of me biking around a park.

Exercise bike workout while watching a cycling video of me biking around a park.

Cycling Videos

I hooked up a TV screen to my computer, opened a GoPro cycling video and got on my stationary exercise bike. Then I started peddling. As the cyclist went around the park I followed along like it was a regular exercise video.

Virtually Travel the World From Your Living Room

For my first virtual bike ride, I went around a local provincial park. The second was in another country. Seeing the moving scenery and traveling around the park made the indoor workout better. It was the first time that my indoor bike ride was fun.

The stationary bike workouts improved my leg strength and cardio cardiovascular endurance. Biking is one of the best ways to get fit, even if you only doing indoor workouts. The main problem with working out indoors is the lack of wind makes me really hot. Outdoor workouts tend to be cooler.

From my house, there are only four good cycling routes. For the past 15 years, I have been biking to the same three provincial parks. Virtually there are hundreds of parks and cycling routes to choose from. In the last three weeks, I have used six virtual bike ride videos that were recorded in different locations.

Watching the cycling video made the indoor workout more enjoyable. I started using my exercise bike again and I started using my elliptical trainer more often.

Making GoPro Videos

I put a GoPro camera on my bicycle helmet and biked around a provincial park. The scenery looked great and the ride was relaxing. It turned out well and it was really easy to make. If you have the equipment then making the video is as easy as biking to the beach.

While watching scenic videos I noticed that they are best watched while exercising. If it was filmed while a person was walking, running, biking or rowing then it should be watched while you are working out. When you are sitting still you need more drama, suspense and violence to be entertained.

Most people are not going to sit on their couch and watch a video of someone biking around a park for 45 minutes. Good runs and bike rides don't have a lot of excitement. When you record yourself exercising you usually end up with an exercise video.

Exercise videos get a lot of views but people only watch them while they are exercising. Post your videos to a site like YouTube or Vimeo so other people can use them. GoPro cameras are waterproof. I recommend attaching it to a rowboat or kayak if you have one.

Recorded my bike ride around Presqu'ile provincial park with my new GoPro camera.

Recorded my bike ride around Presqu'ile provincial park with my new GoPro camera.

Going the Distance

Watching a cycling video while using an exercise bike or elliptical trainer worked better than working out while watching TV or staring at a wall. It makes the workout more enjoyable while motivating me to exercise harder.

You can use the displays on your exercise machine or fitness watch to keep track of your workouts. Compete with yourself and try to improve. One of the advantages of exercising alone is that nothing is holding you back. You can keep improving.

It is easy to find videos of people exercising in different provinces, states or countries. So you could see the world from your home. I virtually biked around places I will never get to see in person. VR helmets and motion control are fun but you don't need them to go for a virtual ride.

Get outside when you can. Doing cardio outside is usually better for burning calories and building muscle. When you can't I recommend watching scenic outdoor videos. Watch people bike, run or row outside while you are using a stationary exercise machine, running in place or rowing with an exercise band. Treating firsts person videos of people biking, hiking, running and rowing as workout videos can make indoor cardio workouts fun.

I did not have a good camera when I was canoeing in Algonquin Park or walking up a mountain in British Colombia. Now that I have a GoPro camera I am going to use it to make scenic exercise videos. It gives me another reason to try to have an amazing summer.

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Michael H


DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on June 08, 2021:

I have been missing my exercise classes. I had thought of joining some on Zoom but using other people's exercise videos would be a good alternative. Thank for the idea.