You’ve been told a thousand times that exercise is important. You’ve probably also been told a thousand times that spending time outdoors is important. While it’s difficult to fit these vital aspects of health and wellbeing into your daily life, the benefits are extreme and well worth the effort. The following aims to help with this process by drawing your attention to a handfula of outdoor activities that count as exercise and improve your health, mood, and overall quality of life. As with any exercise advice, try out what appeals to you and ditch the rest. Enjoyable movement is better than no movement at all.
Going for a walk in the wilderness is one of the best things you can do for your body. Walking is a phenomenal form of exercise that is gentle enough to be pleasant for most people, plus all the fresh air does wonders for your mood and immune system. Studies have found that a thirty-minute walk in the woods improves your immune system for an entire week. This means it’s easier for your body to handle bacteria and viruses that you come in contact with, reducing the chances of you getting sick.
This is a great activity to bring children along if that is one of your deciding factors. Turn hikes into collecting parties where leaves, stones, flowers, pinecones, and other natural treasures are found, and most kids will be satisfied.
Gliding over the surface of the water is a wonderful experience that quickly clears the mind and brings you to a pleasant centre. Kayaking, canoeing, and paddle boarding all allow you to accomplish this. They provide excellent exercise (your back will be sore if you push it too hard on your first few outings), but they also get you out on the water. Studies have found that spending time near natural bodies of water can radically reduce stress and anxiety; the effect is so great that people who live near natural bodies of water have been found to have longer life expectancies. Stress is related to almost every chronic illness known to humans, and even though this connection is not fully understood, a reduction in stress has been shown to reduce the risk for chronic conditions.
This is an excellent choice for those who want the option of a physically demanding task as well. Your own choice of speed, water roughness, and duration can turn kayaking into quite a workout. If you’re worried about only strengthening your arms and back, you can learn about the advantages of pedal-powered kayaks. This way, you can put some of the strain on your legs if you so desire.
Many traditional forms of exercise are hard on the joints; joint damage accrued over the course of an active life can result in lots of pain and movement struggles later in life. Cycling is gentle on the joints while still giving your body a nice workout. It’s fantastic at burning calories and results in lots of new sights to see, which can be ideal for people who get bored when exercising. You can use a bike to explore your neighbourhood in more detail or to wander down a back road and enjoy the country air. Cycling tends to work best in areas that don’t have crazy high populations (biking in cities even with a helmet results in a sharp increase in the risk of injury). Make sure to brush up on the rules of the road for bikers as well.
For those who like to have a result at the end of their efforts, gardening might be what you’re looking for. Gardening might not seem like it involves a lot of exercise, but it activates a lot of muscle groups you don’t normally use. It also gets your hands in the dirt, which is part of a process called grounding. Grounding reduces inflammation which, in turn, reduces the risk for major chronic illnesses and improves immune response, wound healing, and autoimmune conditions. Beyond all these health benefits, it produces beautiful results. Foral gardens can be enjoyed whenever you’re outside, and vegetable and herb gardens can take your cooking to the next level both in terms of flavour and health. This is also a good option for people with mobility issues; if you can have help to a particular garden bed with your supplies in tow, you can sow, plant and weed from a seated position. Just make sure that you pick up a nail brush, as once you get into gardening, you’re going to discover just how hard it is to clean soil out of your nails.
Skiing And Snowboarding
For those who struggle to get outside in the winter months because of the frigid temperature, skiing or snowboarding might be the answer. Both activities are great for your cardiovascular health and can improve strength and balance without you noticing it. For standard skiing and snowboarding, you need a height to sail off of, but don’t forget that cross-country skiing is always an option for those who don’t live anywhere near mountains.
Swimming presents people with the most complete workout available; nearly every muscle in the body is needed to keep you afloat and moving against the resistance of the water. It’s a fantastic way to improve core strength. You burn lots of calories and improve your cardiovascular health as well, seeing as your heart and lungs have to work harder to get oxygen to all the muscles in use. This is also a great option for people with joint pain who still want a proper workout.
This is another activity that is great when children are present. Kids love water and tend to get really tired after an afternoon at the beach, making this a win for everyone.
The above list should have given you a few ideas for outdoor activities that improve your health. Be careful when combining standard sunscreens with water activities, as study after study has found that traditional sunscreens are terrible for aquatic environments (it’s also bad for you, but that’s another conversation). Some places like Hawaii have even taken to banning traditional sunblock products. Look for something that is mineral-based (zinc-sunscreens are best) and free of toxins.