Whilst it’s tempting to stay indoors as much as possible during the cold winter months, it is also a great time to get outside and enjoy nature.
It is a fact widely known that being outside benefits one’s health and there is now research to show that certain environments make us more likely to exercise too. This is because there are greater opportunities provided for exercise and there is a positive culture of celebrating the outdoors.
It has been medically proven that those who take part in regular and moderate physical exercise have a reduced risk of illness and disease, as well as greater longevity.
Here are some of Ned Morgan’s suggestions for outdoor exercise:
- 1. HIKING Even brisk walking can lower blood pressure and improve the
- performance of the heart and lungs, reducing the risk of many chronic
- illnesses such as type-2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, asthmas and some
- forms of cancer. In fact, walking could be better for us than running or
- jogging. Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in
- California found that brisk walking reduces the risk of heart disease to
- a greater extent than running, if energy expenditure is the same for both
- activities.17 Participants, aged between 18 and 80, were studied over a
- period of six years and researchers found that running reduced the risk
- of heart disease by 4.5 per cent, while walking reduced it by 9.3 per cent.
- 2. CLIMBING uses all the major muscle groups in both the upper and
- lower body, exercising the back, abdominal and leg muscles as well as
- the ﬁngers, shoulders and arms. Regular climbing increases stamina
- and endurance as well as muscle strength, and reaching and stretching
- for holds improves ﬂexibility and agility.
- 3. SKIING AND SNOWBOARDING These activities improve
- cardiovascular endurance and health, work all the major muscle groups,
- improve balance and agility, and strengthen bones and joints. The
- exercise releases endorphins into the blood, improving mood and
- leading to better sleep.
Exercising in Nature
It seems that exercising in nature can offer us advantages over exercising in a gym. One study found that when participants chose their own walking speed at which to exercise, those walking outdoors chose a faster speed than those indoors and, paradoxically, they felt that they had put in less effort on their walk.18 When they were asked to walk using the same amount of effort indoors and outdoors, they walked at a faster rate outdoors, which suggests they may have found the exercise less demanding outside. Being in pleasant natural surroundings seems to make us less aware of physiological sensations, such as feeling tired, which allows us to exercise harder and for longer.
More outdoor tips and exercises in Ned Morgan’s In The Mountains