I need to get a lot fitter and lose some weight but rather than head for the gym I'm heading outdoors.
It’s amazing how simply looking at pictures of nature can lower your blood pressure and ease stress and mental fatigue. That is how powerful nature can be. Getting outdoors in nature is obviously even better.
I think it's true for most people that if you want to feel better, just get outside. Try gardening, heading to the local woodland or going for a bike ride. Outdoor exercise is the healthiest form of fitness – not only for the environment but for the soul.
I stopped going to the gym years ago and use the great outdoors as my exercise class. Whilst I like to wander, and take photographs, I also generally power walk part of the way and also look for steep banks or steps that I can run up and down. Other times I'll take a long leisurely bike ride. Today I challenged myself to go further and faster than usual.
I believe that exercising in nature has benefits that go above and beyond the benefits you gain by exercising indoors.
We all have an innate ability and requirement to move, this is ingrained in us from our evolutionary physiology, but we often think of exercise as only being good for our bodies. However, it can be just as good for our brains and our minds, and getting outside and exercising in nature might amplify the benefits.
Walking in nature improves measures of revitalisation, self-esteem, energy, and pleasure, and decreases frustration, worry, confusion, depression, tension, and tiredness far more than activity indoors does.
The other huge benefits of training in nature, or the ‘outdoor gym‘, are that movements can be a delightful combination of spontaneity, expression and enhanced efficiency. This trio of concepts is very hard to achieve in the often-clinical environment of the gym or excessive controls of an indoor exercise class for example.
We’ve all been there, rushed into the gym for a quick workout, run out again completely mindless of the movements and exercise we have just done.
Movement and exercise are closely related yet often so far apart. For example, in the gym, we may jump on the x-trainer, rowing machine or treadmill. Yes, this builds up a sweat and we naturally feel better because of that. However, are we really getting quality exercise? Are we aware, awake….alive...mindful to our senses and surroundings in this setting?
I find that the combination of exercise and being in nature is the best combination for my mental and physical wellbeing. How about you?
I’ve decided to challenge myself to do something every day for 21 days to show how living a more conscious life can help us heal ourselves and heal the earth. If you join me in the challenge please use the hashtag #heal. My aim is to do something different for Climate Change every day for 21 days. Will you join me?
If you want a more personal and in-depth challenge that makes you question your level of consciousness and beliefs, join me on my 21 Day Conscious Living Challenge. It starts on the 21st of July and there are still a few places left. Are you up for the challenge?