Want to get a “leg up” on your new year resolution? Trying to commit to a “new year, new you”? Looking to “kickstart” your January?
There is no doubt that your year so far has been flooded with adverts like these. But joining a gym isn’t for everyone. And for many it isn’t affordable. So how, if you’re really wanting to get fitter this year, can you do so without buying into a multi-million pound industry too often built on shame? Well, you get outdoors more!
Let me tell you a story. I’m a diet and fitness industry dropout. I use to cut carbs and work out until I fainted. I pushed myself so hard in spin classes that I’d throw up. I binged ice cream and then refused to eat for 2 days to “make up” for it. I ate nothing but so-called “superfoods” … supplemented meals for shakes filled with bulking agents to make me feel more full. I took exercise classes, full of grunting, groaning, sweaty, judging men that I hated (the men and a class) because it promised me I’d burn a thousand calories. I’d cancel weekend plans so I could do a double spin class (and give myself thrush in the process).
All I did was make myself miserable. And I didn’t fall in love with myself until I dropped that toxic behaviour. Now I work out for me, I eat what my body tells me it wants/needs. I’m happier, stronger, more confident. And one of the biggest reasons for this is that I found exercise that suited me.
And that was very simple – I got outside more. Suddenly, exercise doesn’t feel like exercise any more. It isn’t a chore. It is a hobby. It is good for the soul. It was free of the toxicity and judgement of so many gyms I’ve been to. After all, a tree is never going to intimidate you the way some gym bunnies can.
The joys of getting outdoors
As we grow older, we seem to move further and further away from the childhood joy of being outdoors. Rain becomes something to complain about instead of an excuse to jump in puddles. Gardening becomes a muddy chore instead of a chance to dig up all sorts of weird and wonderful bugs and grubs. A tree becomes just a tree when before it was a magical portal to another world, the best climbing frame in the world, or the opportunity to build a hell of a rope swing.
Okay, you don’t need to be as adventurous as swinging across a river on a threadbare piece of rope. But getting outside more has proven benefits to your health and well being. More exposure to sunlight improves your vitamin D levels, helps maintain healthy skin, and can even helps combat signs of depression.
Ten ways to spend more time outside
Go for a walk
Whether it’s a 15 minute saunter around the block on your lunch break or an epic 10 mile hike on a Saturday morning, a walk can really get your endorphins going whilst exposing you to fresh air, trees, flowers and all of natures (even urban natures) goodnesses. Plus it’s free!
Try wild swimming
This may sound very adventurous for some but wild swimming is on the rise. Hampstead Ponds in London are a popular haunt all year round and Dartmoor, which is on my own doorstep, is filled with lakes and rivers to take a dip in. I started this myself last year and I find nothing more invigorating than stripping off on a walk and taking a quick dip. This year I’d like to do more of this and I’m currently looking into the best swimming watches to track my progress.
If wild swimming isn’t your thing, then local lidos are a great way of swimming outdoors.
Go on a geocaching adventure
It’s like going on a bear hunt, but for the digital age. You can seek out treasure troves left by other geocachers around the country and leave your own packages for others to find. Geocaching adds a sense of adventure to getting outdoors and I’ve loved the times I’ve tried it. I imagine it is even more magical when adventurous kids get involved.
Plant up your outdoor space
Whether it’s creating a herb garden, decorating your roof terrace with a thousand and one pots of bee-friendly flowers, or digging over a vegetable plot, gardening is a great way of getting outside. It is also an activity that lasts, leaving you with an outdoor space that you want to spend time in.
Take your normal exercise outside
Whether it’s taking your yoga mat to the local park or your kettles bells into the garden, taking your normal exercise routine outside can make it feel fresh and new again. I love taking my yoga mat outside with me and getting in a cheeky yoga flow whilst walking the dog.
Go for a bike ride
You can hire bikes from so many places now. On a nice day, you can skip your usual bus commute and cycle to work. Or go on a pub-stop cycle route down your local canal or river.
Experiment with nature photography
Taking up nature photography is a great way of getting outdoors more. Photographing everything from dramatic landscapes to wild flowers is a great way of getting outdoors more. You’ll also be capturing some memories whilst you’re at it. You don’t need any fancy kit – smart phones are great for capturing scenes and there are so many free editing apps to chose from if you want your photos to stand out a bit more.
Have a picnic
I adore a picnic. Throwing yummy treats in a hamper and heading out to a local park or nature reserve to sit on a tartan blanket and eat strawberries. If you want to be really old fashioned about it, take a rounders kit or some skittles to play games in-between pork pies. And don’t forget your camera to capture those good times.
Join the National Trust
Organisations like The National Trust and Historic England have nature trails and outdoor activities year round. They let you park for free and help to maintain ancient walkways and coastal paths. Having a membership means you’re more likely to take advantage of all they have to offer.
Volunteer with an environment group
We all know we need to do a little more for the environment. Why not join an activist group for a day of tree planting or a beach clean up? There are also charities that do woodland preservation and donate the chopped wood to those in need of winter fuel. It’s a great way of giving something back, preserving our natural environment, and getting more fresh air yourself.
Now, I know that being outdoors isn’t for everyone but I do hope you’ll at least try it! And tell me, how do you like to spend time outdoors?
This post has been sponsored by Super Watches. Super Watches is a website dedicated to professional reviews and smart watch comparisons. They review, compare and contrast only the best quality smart watches out there. All thoughts and opinions expressed remain true to my only thoughts and findings.