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6 reasons to get active outdoors this summer

It’s no secret being active is good for your body and mind. Regular physical activity can reduce the risk of many chronic conditions including coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer, obesity, mental health problems and musculoskeletal conditions[1].

But did you know, there are additional benefits to taking your activity outdoors?

  1. Strengthen your bones

Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones. From around late March/early April to end of September, we should get most of our vitamin D from sunlight. Making sure you follow guidelines[2] on minimising your risk of skin cancer, being outdoors will help you to absorb Vitamin D3.

  1. Boost your mental wellbeing

Being active in the natural environment for just 5 minutes has a significant impact on your self-esteem and mood[3], with those suffering from mental health issues likely to have the most significant increase in self-esteem, as well as improvement in symptoms of depression. Exercising outdoors can also give you greater feelings of revitalisation and positive engagement, decreases in tension, confusion, anger, and depression, and increased energy[4].

  1. Improve joint stability, core strength and balance

Being active on uneven surfaces will help to make your joints more stable and work deep core muscles harder. Activities such as paddleboarding and walking on uneven surfaces provide a low impact option; particularly important if you are already suffering from joint instability.

  1. You’re more likely to stick to it

Outdoor activities are fun and challenging. Exercising outdoors can make you more likely to stick to an activity than those exercising indoors[5].

  1. You are active for longer

Whether it’s change in scenery, fresh air or the connection with the outdoors, many outdoor activities offer the opportunity to be active for longer – increasing your endurance – without the monotony of the same treadmill display, swimming pool floor or the confines of a hall.

  1. Sleep better

Being active by the sea will provide additional benefits of helping you sleep better. The sea air is full of negative ions, which improve your ability to absorb oxygen[6].

  1. Boost your immune system

As well as providing Vitamin D, sunlight also seems to energise special cells in your immune system called T cells that help fight infection. Furthermore, many plants put substances, including organic compounds called phytoncides, into the air that seem to boost immune function [7]. 

Therefore, whether it’s getting out for a walk, going horseriding, gardening or something a bit more adventurous – there are plenty of benefits to getting outdoors. Paddleboarding, paddleboard yoga and fitness and beach yoga are all available through Leanne Bird Wellbeing & Adventure so get in touch if you’re looking for your next adventure contact me.

[1] Department of Health (2011). Start Active, Stay Active: A report on physical activity for health from the four home countries’ Chief Medical Officers https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/216370/dh_128210.pdf

[2] NHS (2015) How to get vitamin D from sunlight https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Summerhealth/Pages/vitamin-D-sunlight.aspx

[3] Jo Barton, Jules Pretty. What is the Best Dose of Nature and Green Exercise for Improving Mental Health? A Multi-Study Analysis. Environmental Science & Technology, 2010: 100325142930094 DOI: 10.1021/es903183r https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es903183r

[4] Thompson Coon, J., Boddy, K., Stein, K., Whear, R., Barton,  and J., Depledge, M.H.. (2011) Does participating in physical activity in outdoor natural environments have a greater effect on physical and mental wellbeing than physical activity indoors? A systematic review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21291246

[5] Lacharité-Lemieux, M., Brunelle, J.-P. and Dionne, I. J. (2015) Adherence to exercise and affective response: comparison between outdoor and indoor training. https://journals.lww.com/menopausejournal/Abstract/2015/07000/Adherence_to_exercise_and_affective_responses_.11.aspx

[6] Lambert, V (2008) Be beside the seaside https://www.telegraph.co.uk/lifestyle/wellbeing/diet/3355947/Be-beside-the-seaside.htm

[7] Qing, L. (2010) Effect of forest bathing trips on human immune function https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2793341/

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