By Hunter Epperson ~ Copy Desk Chief
According to Michigan State University, green exercise, any outdoor planned physical activity, has been linked to many health benefits such as reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, improving mood, increasing self-esteem, and enhancing perceived health. So what are some ways you can implement this type of exercise and ditch the gym membership? Here are some ideas.
- Go For A Walk
Photo of two elederly individuals walking down the street. Photo retrieved from health.harvard.edu
Walking is a great source of exercise. The best part is it comes with many great health benefits! According to Harvard Health, Harvard researchers found in a study of 12,000 people that walking briskly for an hour a day cut the effects of 32 weight promoting genes in half.
Looking to ditch the sweet tooth? Walking outside may help with that. A study performed at University of Exeter found that walking for 15 minutes a day was associated with reducing cravings for chocolate in stressful situations and reducing cravings for sugary snacks.
Person walking outside. Photo retrieved from eatthis.com
At risk for breast cancer? Walking outside may help reduce the risk. A study performed from the American Cancer Society found that women who walked for at least seven hours a week “had a 14% lower risk for developing breast cancer than those who walked three hours or fewer a week”.
Have joint pain? Walking may help with that. According to Harvard Medicine, walking five to six miles a week not only prevents arthritis, but also help with joint pain because walking helps lubricate and protect the joints. Hence, taking a daily stroll outside can give people a great opportunity to enjoy their day and enhance people’s health.
Want to boost your immune system? Walking outdoors has been proven to be beneficial for boosting immune systems. According to Harvard University, a study of over 1,000 people found that walking over 20 minutes a day at least five days a week was associated with “43% fewer sick days than those who exercised once a week.” Also, people who did exercise had shorter sickness duration and milder symptoms.
- Go Fly Fishing/Fishing
Picture of man fly fishing. Photo retrieved from ParkCityOutfitters.com
According to ParkCityOutfitters.com, fly fishing has many health benefits including a total body workout, enhancing your mood, and lowering cortisol levels.
According to the same source, casting a fly line can burn from 500 to 1,500 calories per session. Not to mention, fly fishing can also help with balancing melatonin levels, helping a person feel less tired and less depressed. Lastly, according to ParkCityOutfitters.com, a study on Iraq war veterans experienced lower cortisol levels after a weekend of fly fishing than those who did not. Similarly, the researchers found that the same group who fished also slept better, had lower levels of depression and anxiety, experienced less stress, and exhibited signs and symptoms linked to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
- Go Mountain Biking
Picture of a mountain biker. Photo retrieved from Virginia.org
Easy or hard course, long or short course, mountain biking is a great way to go outside and experience the outdoors. Not only will mountain biking help you experience nature and get you outside, mountain biking is a great way to incorporate cardiovascular exercise into your health and wellness plan!
- Go for a hike
Picture of the Grand Tetons. Photo retrieved from REI.com
Like walking, hiking has many benefits, and the best part is that it is free! Just buy a pair of good hiking shoes, lots of snacks, and fill your water bottle! Not only will hiking take you to a beautiful summit, but it is a great cardiovascular activity. With inclines and uneven terrain, this activity is a great way to elevate your heart rate.
- Go backpacking
Picture of two backpackers backpacking in the wild. Photo retrieved from REI.
Looking for something that could be intense that combines hiking with camping? Grab a backpacking pack, camping materials, hiking boots, and a water bottle and try backpacking. Backpacking is when someone or a group of people put all their needed camping gear and materials and place it into a backpacking pack and go on a long hiking expedition. The purpose of this activity is to incorporate camping and hiking to places that are not accessible by vehicle.
Do not let this activity fool you. Depending on the type of gear and materials packed, this activity can be a great source of cardiovascular endurance and muscular strength all in one!
6. Practice Yoga and/or Meditation
Picture of a lady performing yoga and meditation outdoors. The photo is retrieved from shape.com
Yoga and meditation is a great exercise for people looking to exercise their mind, body and soul, and work on flexibility. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, yoga improves a person’s strength, balance and flexibility, helps with back pain relief, eases arthritis symptoms, improves heart health, relaxes the body, improves sleep, increases energy, improves mood, helps a person manage stress, provides a supportive community, and has been linked to promoting better self-care.
Whether you are looking for putting a heavy backpacking pack on your back and setting into the woods or simply taking a moment to practice yoga outside, exercising outside is a great place to go if you are trying to ditch a gym membership or find places to exercise.
Key words: green exercise, nature, yoga, mountain biking, fall, health, mountains
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