We live in an age where most of us work indoors, usually doing long hours at a desk, before going home to sit for most of the evening. In comparison to previous generations, many people are finding that they and their children are using their spare time on screens rather than playing or being outside. Without knowing it, all of this can take a toll on our health and well-being, and with more people suffering from anxiety and depression, it begs the question as to whether our indoor lifestyles are partly to blame. If you are looking for ways to boost your mood as well as your physical fitness, these tips on spending time outdoors are an excellent place to start.
Make the most of your yard at home by making it a nice place to spend some time. Gardening is great for physical activity, but even if you are not an expert gardener, you can still have a nice space. Keep your lawn tidy, pull up intrusive weeds and have an area to sit. Some potted plants add a nice touch. A backyard can be a haven all of your own, or you can use it to socialize outdoors with friends by having barbeques. Sometimes you can be bothered by pests when you sit outside for a while, but most are harmless. However, if you are bothered by pests such as mosquitoes, you can use citronella candles or if you want to learn more about longer lasting ways to control pests, try an internet search for professional tips.
If you don’t have your own space outdoors, make use of public gardens and parks. These are often places that are attractively landscaped, with walkways and interesting plants and flowers.
Going for a walk is an activity that can be enjoyed by almost anyone. It is a good exercise that strengthens your cardiovascular system, without it being too strenuous on muscles and joints. The more physically fit amongst us might prefer long hikes or challenging terrain, whereas if you are trying to build your fitness, you might prefer a stroll on your lunch break at work, to begin with. When you are walking outside, whether in a rural or urban environment, be aware of your surroundings. Pay attention to how the trees move in the wind and the colors you see, and you’ll gain a new perspective on life.
If you don’t feel like going alone, or don’t have a friend who can come with you regularly, look in your local area for walking groups you can join. This will encourage you to walk more often as you might go to new places that you would never have visited, and you will make some friends along the way.
A walk gives you time and space away from the things that are causing you stress, allowing you to process your emotions and be in a better frame of mind to take on challenges. After a walk outside of any sort, you will return feeling refreshed both physically and mentally.
Forest bathing is growing in popularity as a way to benefit from the healing energy of nature. The idea is popular in Japan, however, it is something that humankind has done for millions of years. Just being in any forest, surrounded by majestic trees is something that will make you feel in tune with nature, and forest bathing is like a nature meditation. You can try forest bathing yourself by simply visiting some woodland and spending some time soaking up the atmosphere. Listen to the birdsong and feel the quiet strength of the trees around you. The benefits of forest bathing include a deeper sense of calm, reduced stress, more energy and it can improve your quality of sleep.
If you like to see the great outdoors, cycling is a fun way to spend some time. It is surprising how far you can travel with just some gentle pedaling, and you can take in the sights and sounds along the way. The benefits of cycling outside include improving your cardiovascular function, strengthening your leg muscles, and feeling benefits from being in the fresh air. Cycling is something that appeals to all abilities, as you can take it steady on the flat, or push yourself with speed and hill work.
There is something about being near water that appeals to the human spirit. Water can be relaxing, invigorating or exciting, and there are a number of activities that you can do near or on the water. A walk along a beach is a joy as you hear the sound of the waves and sea birds, and rivers which are all diverse in how the water runs, the types of plants and wildlife, and the different environmental settings.
If you like water sports, then lakes offer plenty of opportunities for outdoor sports water skiing, wakeboarding, and kayaking. Another great activity to do in water, especially if you like to promote stress relief, is wild swimming. When you swim in a river or lake, you see the natural world from a completely different perspective that you would if you were walking, and this can enrich your senses and make you feel happy. Always make sure you are swimming is a safe place, and that your swimming abilities fit the place you want to swim.
There are many other benefits of spending time outdoors. Natural daylight helps our body to absorb vitamins. Our immunity is better because when we are outdoors, we come into contact with different organic matter and compounds than we do inside. If you start to go outside more, you are showing your children a healthy way to live. Being outdoors is good for us, so if you are feeling sluggish or that your mood is low, try spending some time outdoors. Doing so regularly can help you feel more connected with the natural world, and it can also increase the happiness and contentment you feel daily.
Photo by Pablo Heimplatz
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