Nature is a natural healer and spending time outdoors has been shown to have many health benefits. The good news is that you don’t have to wait for the perfect weather to spend time outside, and you don’t need to be super athletic either. Many outdoor activities can be done all year round to improve both your physical and mental health. Here are just five you could try.
Walking or Hiking
Walking is a great way to spend time outdoors as it’s free and accessible for most people. Whether it’s a stroll around your neighbourhood or a trip to a local beauty spot, getting out for a walk has numerous health benefits. Just thirty minutes of walking each day can improve cardiovascular health and bone strength and reduce your risk of disease, including cancer and diabetes.
For people with a reasonable level of fitness looking to go a little further afield, hiking tours provide a new challenge and an alternative way to travel and see the world.
Swimming releases endorphins, which make us feel good, and guard against stress and pain. Combine this with fresh air and brilliant scenery and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a physical and mental health boost.
Gardening is a gentle outdoor activity that people often overlook but it can reduce stress levels, lower blood pressure and help you stay active and burn excess calories. Gardening can also have additional benefits if you use your outdoor space to grow your own food, as it encourages healthy eating.
Gardening is a good way to increase your time spent outdoors and most activities, such as weeding, watering or planting can be adapted to suit people with mobility issues, making it an accessible outdoor activity for people of all ages.
Yoga has long been recognised as being great for both physical and mental well-being, but practicing yoga outdoors comes with added benefits, as it combines the serotonin boost of the yoga itself with the natural lift of serotonin and endorphins from being out in nature, for a double hit!
One of the great things about yoga is that it can be done at any level, so even if you’re a complete beginner doing your very first Downward Facing Dog, you’ll still feel the benefits of an outdoor yoga session.
People often wrongly assume that riding a horse involves nothing more than sitting atop a horse while they do all the work! However, nothing could be further from the truth. Horse riding can burn around 400 calories per hour and has numerous other health benefits too.
The American Heart Association reports that riding is an excellent cardiovascular workout, better even than a game of badminton! It can also significantly strengthen your core, which can improve posture and reduce general aches and pains. Spending time around animals such as horses is also good for mental health, helping to stave off depression and anxiety.
There are a great deal of outdoor activities that can improve both physical and mental health and can be adapted depending on your level of physical fitness and abilities.
Even just spending time outdoors without undertaking rigorous physical activity can improve health thanks to the increased Vitamin D levels from sunlight, so something as simple as a family picnic or a leisurely stroll with a friend can make a difference.