There’s something about a wisp of fresh air, and a clear blue sky that allows your body and mind to feel rejuvenated, refreshed, and even rescued! From time to time, it's important that you break away from that indoor disease you've become so accustomed to. Not only are you nurturing an unhealthy physical lifestyle, but also contributing to a case of long-term spiritual and mental fatigue. Research has shown that outdoor activity provides scope for relaxation, escape from the everyday, and a chance to form social relationships.
Research suggests that 8 key barriers prevent or inhibit recreational and health based outdoor activity. These include being over-weight, not enjoying exercise, being too old, a lack of time due to other commitments, ill-health, injury or disability, a lack of suitable facilities, skills, confidence, money, and transport, fears over safety, and unpredictable weather conditions. It doesn't take long for you to break the indoor sedentary cycle. Even enjoying your morning coffee with your neighbour, outside, contributes to your time outdoors. Chances are the more you get outside, the more likely it is that you will stay outside!
According to 'The Diet and Fitness Plan' (Reader’s Digest, $39.99), there are a number of personal benefits that ought to get you moving outdoors. You will certainly:
1. Cash in on extra-curricular weight loss: Thirty minutes of TV viewing burns a piddling 155 kilojoules. In contrast, 30 minutes spent painting the house will work off 840 kilojoules; gardening uses 195; washing the car, 750; and mowing the lawn, 795 - if you rake up afterwards, you'll sweat off 835. In winter, stacking up firewood burns 1010.
2. Multiply your happiness: Looking at flowers eases depression according to US psychologists, who tested the moods of 100 women and men in the presence and absence of colourful flowers. Meanwhile, exposure to sunlight lifted depression in another study.
3. Feel pleasure, have fun: Kick off your shoes, taste a sun-ripened strawberry, smell the autumn leaves. Every little kid delays coming indoors as long as possible after a day in the open air, and that kid is still inside you. Nature is gloriously romantic!
4. Spend plenty of quality time with the family: We think getting outdoors together will bring you closer to your children and create a lasting, deeper bond.
5. Build self-esteem: People who spend lots of time outdoors tend to be doers, not watchers. Not only are they physically stronger than their sedentary counterparts, they also often have lots of self-confidence as well. They are often leaner and healthier, thanks to all the activity they do, and they frequently have more positive attitudes about life as well.
At this point, this may sound appealing, but reading and thinking about the benefits, is very different to PHYSICALLY doing it. At first, making lifestyle changes can be overwhelming, but taking baby steps will help you achieve results. It isn't enough to talk about engaging in outdoor activities, you have to be proactive in planning precisely what you intend to do. Keep in mind that you should be realistic in your approach, as this is the key to staying motivated. Choosing a park, mountain, beach or lake that is close enough for you to take advantage of provides you with an excuse to visit regularly.