Being outside can be a major boost to both mental and physical health. Medical and scientific studies reveal what many outdoor enthusiasts know to be true: There is a direct link between being outside and a reduction in stress and anxiety. While you may initially be motivated to get outside for more physical health, it’s really your whole body—mind and heart, too—that reap the rewards.
Here are five outdoor activities you can try that can help bring more health and wellness into your life:
Want a low-impact way to burn calories and build muscle mass? Biking is a quick way to get there. Biking is easy on the bones and joints, yet also still presents a cardio challenge. That means biking is not only a good sport in and of itself, but also an ideal one for cross-training. Heal and prevent injury, build unused muscles, and boost recovery by adding in one or two days of cycling cross-training into your workout routine. If you want to continue your biking routine in the cooler months, look into the benefits of a bike trainer for indoor cycling.
Taking a walk in the woods can be a very therapeutic way to let go of stress and worry. It’s also an easy way to improve your cardiovascular health, build lean muscle and burn fat. If you’re new to hiking, be sure to find trails nearby that are rated easy or moderate. When you are ready to advance, you can look for longer trails, or find a more technical challenge on an intermediate or difficult trail. Be sure to stock up on fluids no matter how short the hike, and wear sunscreen and other gear.
If you are looking to burn calories, running is one of the most effective outdoor activities. If you’ve never run before, consider exploring a Couch to 5k training plan. You can run on sidewalks, paved trails, dirt trails or even in the woods. Trail running is a full-body workout— you need a strong core to get up hills, good balance for navigating technical terrain and, depending on how rugged you get, some sharp mental skills for orienteering. It’s important you take plenty of water with you. If you’re running alone, let someone know where you are going and when you plan on returning.
What better way to spend a hot summer day than in the cool water? Swimming, like running, is a high-cardio sport. And, like biking, it’s also low-impact. Whether swimming laps at the pool or the shoreline of a beach, swimming is a lifetime sport— that means anyone, at any age (as long as they know how to safely swim) can enjoy the health benefits of gliding through the water. Unlock your potential by learning the basic techniques for common swimming strokes like front crawl, breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly.
Though nature is not the best place for a beginner to start this sport, many indoor rock climbing facilities offer classes and tutorials to get you prepared for climbs in nature. You can practice climbing techniques like handholds and footwork in the safety of the gym, and then venture out with an instructor or a group to explore some of the more exciting and exhilarating outdoor climbs.
No matter the time of year, the great outdoors has something to offer everyone. The healing properties of outdoor activities not only help you feel more physically fit, but you’ll feel better in other ways, too— you’ll quickly see a difference in your mood, outlook on life and self-esteem.