5 Great ways to get fit in the outdoors
- by Ramin Golzari
Exercise and fresh air go hand in hand and are natural partners that are universal for feeling good and exercising outdoors lowers blood pressure and reduces stress. By being outside, we can reduce our stress hormone cortisol by as much as 15%, and the positive effects of being around nature increase when we combine that with the endorphine-boosting act of movement. Negative feelings, such as tension, anxiety, depression, anger and fatigue are significantly lowered. Plus, being out in the sunshine provides the vitamin D that we need and enhances energy generation in the muscles and oxidation of the tissues.
The type and level of exercise can vary hugely. You might go for a gentle walk in the park or a longer trek into the mountains or maybe yoga in the garden or a cycle in the hills. Whatever you do, the benefits are enormous and everybody should be encouraged to get involved.
Five great ways to get outdoors
Getting outside to exercise and be fit and healthy, in decent temperatures and dry weather, is pretty glorious. Here are our five top picks for some of the best (and most enjoyable) fitness activities out there.
Going for a walk sounds too pedestrian but add some great scenery, woodland paths or mountain trails and it's incredible. Kit you might need: Waterproof jacket, Rucksack, Walking poles, Compass, Pedometer.
Not only does running help to build strong bones, as it is a weight bearing exercise but strengthen muscles and improves cardiovascular fitness. Running can have psychological benefits, as many participants who run report feeling an elated, euphoric state, often referred to as a "runner's high”; add green space and stunning scenery and this is multiplied. Running is frequently recommended as therapy for people with clinical depression and people coping with addiction. Kit you might need: Light rucksack, Water bottle
Cycling is a great way to see the outdoors and a beneficial workout to add to your fitness regime as this also increases cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength and flexibility. Kit you might need: Waterproof jacket, Rucksack, Water bottle,
Practicing yoga outdoors combines exercise, releasing natural mood boosters and the natural world. These two work incredibly well together, benefitting your mental health, improving your sense of self and feeling more confident and happier. With lower levels of stress, we can ease into a deeper state of relaxation and enjoyment. Kit you might need: Mat, Water bottle, Towel
5. Wild swimming
Wild swimming has long been hailed by evangelists as a life tonic which can boost your mood, calm inflammation and reduces stress, and now a raft of studies point to its powerful, mood-boosting properties, and even suggest it may help ease symptoms of depression. Through repeated cold swimming (Cold adaptation), it is possible to bring down blood pressure and cholesterol, reduce fat disposition, inhibit blood clothing and increase libido. The benefits from wild swimming are varied and long-term on the body have been scientifically proven for many years. Kit you might need: Dry bag, Towel
According to health guidelines, walking for around 30 minutes, 5 days a week, at a brisk pace will help ward off chronic disease and your risk of heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure will be reduced as a response to increasing your level of physical activity. So get out, be active and be healthy.
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