Have you ever noticed how just getting outside makes you feel better? As it turns out, most people not only feel a sense of serenity, but also tend to become healthier, both physically and mentally, while engaged in outdoor activities.
In fact, research shows being outside boosts your immune system by increasing white blood cell levels, while exposure to sunlight can lessen stress and pain. Likewise, scientists have concluded that being in nature boosts your energy levels and can reduce one’s blood pressure, heart rate and muscle tension.
Of course, getting out of the house can also improve concentration, increase creative thinking, and lessen anxiety and depression levels. With all this evidence, it only makes sense to get outside as much as possible.
Here are five outdoor activities that will help you reap some amazing health benefits.
1. Take a Walk
Walking outdoors can be a delightful, low-impact activity. In fact, going on regular walks can help you maintain a healthy weight, as well as prevent or manage heart disease, high-blood pressure and diabetes. And it’s not like you need much when it comes to taking a leisurely stroll.
In fact, the only necessary equipment you’ll need when walking is a pair of proper walking shoes, so choose a pair that offers proper arch support and cushion. For example, the ASICS Gel Quickwalk 3 and New Balance MX608v4 were the top picks for walking shoes in 2017 by RunnerClick.
2. Do Outdoor Yoga
Yoga offers numerous health benefits, including increased flexibility and muscle strength, improved respiration and higher mental clarity. While joining a yoga studio has its perks, you may want to take this healthy exercise regimen outside for a super-charged wellness boost. Find an outdoor practice in your area, or do some basic poses on your own. The only gear you’ll need is comfortable clothing and a yoga mat.
3. Practice Meditation
The health benefits of being outdoors aren’t merely tied to active pursuits. Of course, you can also increase your mental well-being and gain a sense of calm and peace by practicing outdoor meditation. There are many ways to meditate, including:
- Guided meditation: This practice involves an instructor leading you through various mantras.
- Transcendental meditation: This practice involves various mantras to clear your mind.
The only thing you’ll need to practice meditation is a quiet space and a comfortable setting.
4. Get Off the Beaten Path
While merely being outside has its obvious perks, you’re bound to experience even more benefits while exploring nature. In particular, experts note the smells emanating from forests can:
- decrease stress levels;
- increase overall brain function; and
- decrease blood pressure (more so than in the city)
Like anything outdoors-related, make sure to properly prepare for any foray into the forest. Water, food, a first-aid kit, raingear, warm clothing, a GPS or compass, maps of the area, and hiking shoes and poles are just some of the provisions to think about bringing on your adventure.
Of course, if you plan to take your vehicle off-road, make sure your vehicle is equipped with the proper tires, especially if you plan to go off the beaten path to reach that perfect vista.
5. Practice Your Gardening Skills
Beyond the ability to grow your own food, gardening offers plenty of health benefits, too. Studies indicate gardening keeps our minds sharp and can lower one’s risk of dementia. For equipment, beyond your standard gardening tools, you’ll simply need a pair of gloves, some knee pads and a sunhat.