Exercising Outside Can Improve Your Mental Health

New research has revealed that 50% of UK adults spend less than an hour outside each day and 70% would like to spend more time outside.

The study, conducted by Lindahls also found that 60% say their ideal place to exercise would be in the great outdoors – which isn’t surprising when you take into consideration that 82% of those surveyed don’t like going to the gym.

The solution is obvious. Ditch the dingy gym and the poorly-lit spinning studios and embrace the outside world.

The endless daylight and warmer temperatures of summer mean it’s the perfect time to give it a go.

We have already written about how simply being outside can improve your mental health – a proximity to nature appears to have the power to help us de-stress – so add endorphins to the mix and you have the perfect recipe for an improved mood.

And the experts agree. Personal trainer and fitness pro Elle Linton swears by getting sweaty in the great outdoors – but she didn’t always feel this way.

‘I remember about eight years ago or so, I was not the outdoors type, especially when the weather wasn’t on my side.

‘Then I ended up teaching an outdoor class which meant I had to show up every week no matter the weather.

‘One week, the ground was covered in snow and still, five ladies turned up to train with me.

They really inspired me and helped me to understand what commitment looked like when you had a goal to achieve… and also that there is no such thing as bad weather if you’re dressed appropriately.

‘If the weather is something that might put you off, then rope a friend in or book a class (that you can’t cancel) for some accountability.’

We asked Elle to create a simple workout to get you started in the great outdoors.

All you need is a park bench and a little bit of space. Simple outdoor workout Warm up: two minutes of brisk walking.

Sumo squats

Do 30 of these.

Your legs can be wider than hip width for sumo squats – but keep your knees directly over your toes.

100-200 metre run Pick a spot in the distance to run to and back.

Tricep dips Do 30 of these. Use a park bench to rest your hands on and extend your legs straight out in front of you.

100-200 metre run Pick a spot in the distance to run to and back.

Side lunges

Do 30 of these.

Aim to dip as low as possible, keeping your back straight and your chest up.

100-200 metre run Pick a spot in the distance to run to and back.

Pistol squats

Do 30 of these – 15 on each leg. This is simply a single-leg squat.

Tap your bum against the edge of the bench as you lower down for added stability.

100-200 metre run Pick a spot in the distance to run to and back.

Working out outside can be joyous – but preparation is key. As Elle says, prepping adequately for the weather is a big one.

Knowing you can still get outside and active come rain, shine, hail or blizzard can help to keep you on track with your fitness goals.

Additionally it is helpful to scope out outdoor spaces that will work for the kind of training you want to do.

If you’re running – make sure your route isn’t right alongside busy roads full of traffic and pollution.

If you want to find outdoor space for bodyweight and strength work – find a local park and plan to go at times when it won’t be full of children.

‘I personally love outdoor workouts for the freedom, the creativity and the views,’ explains Elle.

‘There’s nothing you can’t do outdoors – from running, cycling, walking, a workout – on your own, with friends or an organised event.

‘You don’t have to follow a route unless you want to, just go with the flow. No matter where you are – even in London and big cities – you’re never too far away from some greenery, near a canal, or just a quiet spot a little bit off the beaten track, away from the crowds.

‘If you want a good laugh, get a group of friends together and play a game of old school rounders and prepare for your competitive streak to come out.

‘We spend so much time cooped up whether that’s at work in an office, in a car or on public transport that being outside not only benefits you physically, it can benefit you mentally.

‘It’s the perfect space to gather your thoughts or leave them behind all together and you’re almost guaranteed to have improved your mood after an outdoor workout.’

The best thing about exercising outside is that it is incredibly accessible.

You don’t need equipment, there won’t be any membership fees and you can go at any time that suits you – which is perfect if you have young children or work unpredictable hours.


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