Getting out into the wild is good for us. From reducing feelings of mental fatigue to providing stress relief to live-fast urbanites, reconnecting with outside can get your heart pumping – and soothe your mind – at the same time.
According to Dr Mike Rogerson, a researcher at the University of Essex’s Green Exercise Research Team: “Nature-based environments boost exercise-related improvements in physiological measures of blood pressure, stress and autonomic recovery.” They also “improves mood, and self-esteem compared to equivalent exercise indoors or in urban settings.”
London based personal trainer Marc Ellwood says: “When exercising outside, you’re working harder, due to terrain and weather. When you’re pushing harder, you’re burning more fat, building more muscle and, eventually, increasing your strength.”
Try these ideas for getting fit in the fresh air.
We can’t describe the benefits of being with nature without referencing this popular Japanese term. Public health experts recommend people spend time simply walking and relaxing outdoors, a practice called forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku. Leaving your mind revitalised and your head clearer for the times when you’re not up for a sweat.
An excellent all-rounder, Marc Ellwood is known for his East London bootcamps, usually based in London Fields park. “I incorporate a lot of squat variations, which are great for posture and hip alignment as well as being the king exercise for your legs,” he says.
“I also throw in a load of burpees, battle rope swings, slam balls, speed ladder sprints to get the heart rate up, improve general fitness and increase muscle strength,” he adds.
An all time classic. “Going for a run in the blistering cold or lashing rain gives you a better sense of achievement and satisfaction afterwards than running in the gym,” Ellwood explains. This also means you’re more likely to stick with exercising in the long term due to the self satisfaction spurring you on. You can also incorporate a quick burst of HIIT (that’s high intensity interval training).
“Try twenty second sprints at near max intensity and forty seconds rest, do this for twenty minutes, it’s the best for fat burning.” We’ve got some power-up playlists to help your progress on, or if you’re a total beginner, download the NHS Couch to 5k app for a quick kick start.
According to the Psychology of Sport and Exercise journal, cycling in an outdoor environment results in improved endurance and greater use of external thoughts (dissociative attentional strategy.) In other words improving both your method and your speed, who knew?
Ellwood says: “Cycling inside a gym looking at the same wall for 30 minutes can be quite tedious, yet on the outside the scenery can take your mind off the exercise, it can even become a hobby.” So invest in the pro-gear and follow Ellwood’s top tip. “Know your route and measure it, set goals and you will definitely see progression.”