Exercise is a tried and tested way of increasing your brain’s level of serotonin, the happy hormone. But as the nights draw in and the weather gets colder, it can be difficult to find the motivation to exercise. This can result in having lower levels of energy which can then lead to low moods. Experiencing low moods is normal, and it is something that nearly everyone will experience at least once throughout their lives. However, if you are suffering with prolonged low moods, your first step should be to reach out to your registered GP for advice.

Not everyone finds the bright lights and loud music of gyms an enjoyable experience, or it may even be that a gym is currently inaccessible to you. The thought of sweatbands, shorts and aerobic exercise may make you shudder. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore exercise!

A better way to boost your mood, and your overall health, is to head outdoors.

The mental health charity Mind says that exercising outside is a great way to improve your mental wellbeing. This is because combining exercise with spending time alongside nature is proven to help lift low moods and anxious feelings. Does this mean dragging a cross-trainer onto your back lawn or doing a Zumba class in the local woods? Absolutely not!

Here are three ways you can combine exercise with the great outdoors:

Walks in the countryside

We are blessed to have some incredible places to explore in Derbyshire. From the grounds of spectacular historic houses like Chatsworth, Calke and Hardwick, to the vast terrain of the Peak District – Derbyshire is packed full of places to walk and get some much needed fresh air. However, we know that accessing these places to get enough regular exercise isn’t always easy. Instead, why don’t you check out the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and their list of local reserves to find a peaceful spot that is within walking distance of your home? The Derbyshire Wildlife Trust also run volunteering opportunities on their sites, so you have the chance to get outdoors, meet new people and do some good in your local community – a super mood boost!


Did you know that you can burn between 100 to 250 calories every half hour whilst gardening? Moving your body whilst moving earth is a great way to feel good. It’s also a great way to get a hold of seasonal, homegrown food. Why not dedicate a patch of your garden to growing fruits or vegetables? Over winter you can burn those calories by preparing the land, building raised beds and filling them with compost ready for planting up in the spring. You will then have no excuse to not head outside and tend to your plants whilst they are growing during the rest of the year. If access to enough outside space is an issue for you, why not apply for an allotment? Or if your gardening skills aren’t quite ready for an entire allotment plot, why not join in with your local community garden? Community gardens are a great way to meet new people, get outdoor exercise, learn new skills and improve your mood. Plus, you might get to take home some vegetables for free!

Running (and doing your bit for your community along the way)

We appreciate that there will be some keen fitness fans amongst you, so for our final suggestion we were inspired by local ‘ploggers’ – joggers who pick up litter whilst they run. Runners Against Rubbish was set up to encourage runners to pick up rubbish when they see it and are able to safely remove it. Could you take some gloves and a bin bag on your next run, or encourage your running club to have a weekend session dedicated to running and litter picking? Litter picking equipment is often available to hire through your local council so check with them if you don’t want to invest in your own clean up equipment. Another idea is to join your local Good Gym. When you join Good Gym you and the group go and help out local community projects and then run back to the meeting spot. Another great way to feel good and do good!

Hopefully these suggestions have given you some ideas on how you can combine exercise and the outdoors. If you have any other suggestions that you would like us to feature then please get in touch!