Easy Ideas for Reaching Your Fitness Goals While Enjoying the Outdoors
by Carollyn Mushro
Spring is officially upon us which usually means we have easier access to the outdoors. It also means that most of us are more motivated to get out into the sunshine & fresh air!
First, let’s consider all the fringe benefits of moving that body outdoors. Did you know that the simple act of breathing fresh air can benefit your digestive system, increase your immunity, plus give you mental energy and focus? It’s true! If you think about the last time you really spent quality time outdoors, it was likely somewhat euphoric...now let’s go chase that incredible feeling each day!
The importance of sunlight in our routines can’t be underscored. We all know that the sun plays a big role in increasing our vitamin D levels-- which is essential to immune function and bone health. Sunlight is also essential in setting our circadian rhythm, leading to a restful night’s sleep. Lastly, we have likely all experienced the effects of the sun on our mood...it’s tough to be mad or sad on a bright, sunny day....so get out there!
Perhaps the most accessible mode of outdoor exercise is good, old-fashioned walking. This is, in fact, my personal preferred method of moving my body! All I need is a pair of walking shoes and some comfortable clothing to make it happen! I love taking in my surroundings and exploring on foot with a brisk walk.
Set a desired time or distance goal, and then work your way upwards from there. I prefer to do a minimum of 3 miles when I walk....oftentimes more if it fits into my schedule. You can also try varying the terrain to challenge yourself. For example, if you’re accustomed to walking neighborhood sidewalks, find a local dirt trail to explore. This will provide enough variance to keep your glutes and quads on their toes! Or, keep things fresh with hilly terrain or find some stairs to climb at a local stadium or toboggan run. Lastly, involve your arms a bit more by carrying 1-lb weights, a water bottle (double duty!), or carrying walking sticks.
Another outdoor exercise that doesn’t require any special equipment...YOGA! Finding a local class is a wonderful way to explore yoga if you’re newer to it. Alternatively, you can always try yoga simply by finding a practice that is a “beginner” level on YouTube! There are literally hundreds of free videos at your fingertips. Doing yoga outside brings another level to this exercise of mind, body and soul. If you’ve never tried yoga before, bear in mind that although it may not “look” like it is physically demanding, anyone who has been around a yoga mat for long enough will certainly tell you otherwise. It is a full-body workout that is also an experience for the soul!
The possibilities for outdoor exercise are literally endless, but here’s one more outdoor exercise idea. Have you ever tried kayaking? Even if you don’t have a large body of water near you, creeks and streams can make for a wonderful kayaking experience. Don’t own a kayak? Borrow a friend’s or check out your area for rentals. Once you hit the water, you’ll find a fascinating view of local flora and fauna, plus you’ll get a terrific upper-body workout.
No matter the activity you choose, each time you decide to skip the treadmill and get outside, your body (and mind!) will thank you.
About the Contributor
Carollyn is a wellness enthusiast living in the Chicago burbs with her husband and two children.
She loves inspiring families to find their own healthy journey through holistic modalities.
She loves kombucha, travel, and questioning the status quo.
You can find her on IG: @carollyn.mushro