Nowadays, we have an endless supply of fitness options. Everywhere you turn it seems like there is an opportunity to 'drastically blast body fat' or 'drop a dress size in a week.' There are circuits, Zumba, spinning, aerobics, the gym and of course the ever-changing latest craze (such as having an 'exercise rave' in between leaving the office and putting on your spuds for dinner!). I'm a firm believer of 'each to their own' and if it works for you, then great! But I think there's more to exercise than just chasing those body targets and following the latest fitness craze. For me it's a very holistic experience, and it has to offer much more than just sweat and tears, to justify the large amount of time dedicated to it throughout my life. I always ask myself, 'what's in it for me?' So here's why I believe nature walks should be part of your regular fitness fix!
1. Get outdoors!
Research tells us that there is a plethora of benefits to being in the great outdoors. With regards to exercise it can increase the amount of endorphins released, it can lead to a longer period of time engaging in exercising, and it can result in a higher level of intensity during that exercise. Your workout just got instantly better by stepping outside.
2. Connect with Nature
Walking in a natural environment opens up a whole new world for us. First of all it can remind us of the true miracle and natural beauty of the world we live in. Simply watching a bird gather twigs to build a nest, or witnessing the change of seasons over time, can be very humbling. Secondly, the natural world can be immensely educational, as we learn about the moon cycles, the array of interesting coastal wildlife, witnessing spectacular night skies with rare meteor showers or the breath-taking views of the aurora borealis. And thirdly, nature walks often leave us feeling much less stressed and more appreciative for the simple things in life, as we recognise the joy and inner peace that often comes when watching a glorious sunset or an emerging rainbow.
3. Relax, refresh, revive
There is a special feeling that can come over you like a wave, when you are in the great outdoors. Something that is extremely different to when exercising in a packed gym or overcrowded aerobics class with loud music and people grunting and sweating all around you! It’s not hard to see why your mental health as well as your physical health is addressed while getting your fitness fit while out in nature.
4. Digital detox
By navigating towards nature, you are actively removing yourself away from the abundance of technology that we are constantly engaged with. There is no TV to stare at while on the treadmill, no pumping tunes to keep in time with, and no apps are needed to record your every rise and fall of your heartbeat. There are many more things that will grab your attention during your fitness session in the great outdoors, than having to update your Facebook status! Leave the technology behind, even just for one hour, and watch your focus shift more towards the amazing environment you are exercising in and how you are actually feeling, both physically and emotionally. Take away the distractions and simply enjoy your workout for what it is.
5. Re-connect with people
Take a friend of a family member with you on your fitness adventure in the great outdoors. It is extremely easy to drift apart or drastically reduce 'quality' time with our loved ones, as we rush about in this hectic modern lifestyle that most of us nowadays experience. Escaping in to nature somewhat forces us to engage with and really re-connect with other human beings. This small amount of time together can be vitally important. Do not underestimate the rippling effect of benefits that can ensue in to your lives by scheduling in regular time together in nature. Not only is it beneficial for existing relationships, but it also opens up opportunities to meet new people while out on your walks. Human connections and friendships are important and we need to ensure they are given the time they deserve. And what better way to do it while out exercising in our beautiful natural environment!
So now and again, I would strongly recommend that you hit those hills, brisk walk along the beach or wander through the woods. Embrace it and reap the many benefits. And if I haven't convinced you enough by now, then the other key benefit of getting outdoors for your fitness fix, is that - it's FREE! Now go grab your trainers, and explore...