By Darren Becket, Health and Fitness Expert, Personally Tailored Fitness
Spring is an ideal season to get in great shape — the weather is still cool, the days are long, and blossoming flowers beckon us outdoors. Studies show that time spent in nature increases brain function, promotes weight loss, reduces stress and ramps up our intake of vitamin D.
Here are five fun outdoor activities that will help you look trimmer and feel calmer and happier:
Outdoor games and sports with friends or children are great reminders that fitness can be fun! Bounce on a trampoline; play volleyball; toss a Frisbee; or break out the hacky sack. The benefits of play are numerous. It increases stamina, metabolism and range of motion in joints, and it improves heart health.
In addition to the well-known benefits of hiking, such as cardiovascular capacity and muscle strength, experiencing moments in nature that are “awe inspiring” boost the body’s immune system. Spending time in nature releases the feel-good hormones oxytocin and serotonin, which help the body’s ability to stave off disease, inflammation and depression.
This is an activity that keeps on giving! Gardening is great for the body, mind and spirit. Digging, hoeing, trimming, pushing dirt-filled wheelbarrows and lugging plants all build strength, endurance and dexterity. Beyond the physical benefits, gardening can provide the fresh, healthy and organic produce to nourish the body. And as an added bonus, homegrown produce tastes better! Any gardener will tell you that tending the earth does wonders for the soul. It’s also another great activity to share with a friend or significant other.
Bored with the gym and want a fresh way to feel inspired about fitness? Take your next workout to the water. Ocean, lake, stream, reservoir or pond — walk, peddle, rollerblade or run along the edge. You’ll feel your spirit lift, and your mind grow calm, as your thighs and tummy firm
Overwhelmed? Feeling stressed? Finding it difficult to quiet your mind? Consider meditating outdoors. Find a peaceful, shady spot under a favorite gnarled oak or on a bench overlooking a stream or meadow. Listen. Can you hear the leaves rustling or birds chirping? Even if a car’s horn or a jet passing overhead interrupts the calm, just accept those sounds as part of the background noise. Pay attention to your breath. Before you know it, you’ll feel calmer, quieter and more at peace. That’s meditation.
Darren Becket is a health and fitness expert who loves helping people step into their potential for greatness. He works closely with clients to create unique programs to meet each individual’s needs. Personally Tailored Fitness includes personal training, massage therapy, stress management and nutritional services.