With Spring drawing in and the weather starting to look more promising (most days anyway), it’s a great time to get outdoors more and embrace the nature that is on our doorsteps. When the term ‘outdoor exercise’ gets thrown around, we often cringe back thinking we’re having to pick up running or some other cardio type of exercise. For some, it is the dream to be able to jog along in the beautiful sunshine, for others it’s the biggest nightmare. There are actually many other options, some are free, and some are options you may want to consider every now and again!

There are a wide variety of physical activities that can give these health improvements, you can have a variety, mix things up depending on the day and what you feel like doing, but the most important thing is that you get outside.

Most accessible options:

  • Running/jogging
  • Cycling
  • Outdoor swimming (E.g. Lakes or the sea!)
  • Hiking or mountaineering
  • Walking (try picking up the pace a little to increase your heart rate)
  • Football/Rugby/ outdoor games with others
  • Tennis

Activities that might have a cost:

  • Outdoor adventure courses
  • Canoeing or Kayaking
  • Horse riding
  • Outdoor climbing

If you go out alone, you can stick your headphones in and listen to your favourite podcast, or enjoy listening to the sounds around you! It’s also a great way to get the family outside, or to start a hobby with a friend and spend time together. There’s a list longer than your arm of reasons why getting outside for exercise is so beneficial, but this will cover the key factors!

Scientific research has shown that getting around 120 minutes of exercise outdoors a week has a great improvement on mental and emotional health, as well as general well-being. Being out in nature has also proven to have a positive correlation in reducing anxiety. Currently, it is recommended to get in at least 30 minutes of exercise daily, around 150 minutes a week, with an aim for strength training twice a week for optimal health and supporting muscles and bone strength.

Indoor exercise is still a great option, whether that be home workouts, gym workouts or other recreational activities completed indoors. But, with us all being inside most of the day (especially over this last year), whether that be working at a desk all day; being in the house doing ‘life admin’ and pottering around or doing indoor exercise, it’s all inside those four walls.

The option to take time outside on a daily basis, or at least a few times a week, can make improvements mentally and overall. Our bodies react in a positive manner to being outside, especially in the sunshine. So, what could be the biggest improvements and positives of outdoor activity? Below are a few examples:

  • From April to September, your Vitamin D intake will increase
    • In turn, this means supporting strong bones and teeth, decreasing the risk of osteoporosis
    • Getting at least 15 minutes a day in sunlight is optimal
  • Your moods will feel lighter and improves mental health
    • Especially if you’re out in green space! Taking a walk in the local woods, the park, out in the countryside etc.
    • There’s a lot of positive outcomes from “Green Exercise” for adults and children, helping with self-esteem and mood, among other factors
  • It counts as your daily exercise
    • Exploring a new place or chasing the kids around the park is a great way to get outside for a while and gets movement in
    • Getting time away from screens and technology boosts your motivation to keep moving and breaks up the time we spend sedentary in the day
  • It can actually improve your concentration
    • Being in front of a screen for long periods often decreases your ability to concentrate and focus on your work
    • It is recommended to take 10-minute breaks every hour for this reason, but getting outside for at least 30 minutes every day can boost your concentration
  • If you have kids, it’s important for them to utilise their muscles and increase lung capacity as they grow
    • Plus, an opportunity for them to explore, run free and create their own adventures
    • Being in front of screens for lengthy periods in the day can have a negative effect on eyesight, concentration, self-esteem and increase the risk of becoming overweight
  • A great stress reliever!
    • If you have a job that causes a lot of stress and giving you frown lines, getting some outdoor exercise is a great way to let off steam and allow your mind to wander away from work for a while.

There are so many activities that can be taken advantage of, and it’s always a great idea to have a look around your local area or where you can easily travel to. Make a list of what you want to do, where you want to go, and who else you could do the activities with. Set yourself goals, for example: wanting to get out for a 30-minute walk locally at least 4 times in the week, and on the weekend going to another location to go for a bike ride, maybe once a month doing a paid for activity.

You might surprise yourself in what activities you enjoy, but most importantly, remember outdoor activity doesn’t have to be gruelling and unenjoyable. Find what you enjoy and challenge yourself and others around you to try something different or push yourself further with what you enjoy. Get outside, and although with the warmer weather approaching and restrictions soon to be lifted, you might be preparing to get sun-kissed and make up for lost time in beer gardens, but think of your physical, mental and overall health as a motivational point to get some outdoor exercise in.

What are you waiting for? Go get yourself outside and enjoy the nature we have on our doorstep!