For some it’s winter, for others its summer, but whatever the season, there’s no question that exercise outside is better for you than always hitting the gym.
Studies from both University of Illinois (USA) and University of Essex (UK) show that getting outside embracing nature is the best treatment for depression – so imagine what it can do when you add the dopamine and endorphins that flood in with exercise. Happy days!
Mix it up a bit and add some cross training into your run. The more variety in your run, the greater your endurance, the stronger your heart and the more effective your muscles. Fact.
1. If you’re jogging along an avenue of trees, add in some pyramid training: sprint for one tree and walk for one, sprint for two, walk for two, sprint for three, walk for three, then work back down to one. You’ll get your arms, legs and heart pumping and breathing in all that lovely tree oxygen.
2. Climb a tree. Yes. You read that right – tree climbing quite literally puts you at one with nature and makes you work every single muscle in your body.
3. Go to the park and play tag or chase or just run as fast as you can, just like you did back in the day. You’ll really feel it. You could even take your children with you – they are incredibly good at running … and not because they feel they have to do it.
4. A real treat with a morning or night run or running through woods is that there aren’t too many other people around, so give dance running a go. Stick on your favourite dancey playlist and boogie your way through the trees (Safety note: take a boogie partner with you or just have one earbud in, so you can hear what’s going on around you)
5. Play frisbee at the park or kick a football around – you don’t have to be good at it, you just have to run around and change your pace.
6. Get of the beaten track and go in for a bit of cross-country adventure. Bound over roots, jump from rocks, duck under branches, balance across a fallen log, outrun cattle – do what nature demands you do to get from one place to another.
7. Go for a long walk or hike. Walking at a brisk pace for long distances is as effective – some would argue more effective – than running. It’s less abrasive on your knees and gets your heart pumping just as much … especially on the up hill.