What better antidote to lockdown than getting outdoors? The summer months present the perfect opportunity to head outside for exercise, fresh air and vitamin D.
Being outside has so many health benefits. Time and time again studies have shown that heading outdoors improves our concentration, boosts our mood, and gives us a sense of connection to mother nature. It also provides a low cost, contact-free way to exercise; both of which are crucial with our current world situation.
Here are my top suggestions for getting outside to exercise this summer.
1. Classic Cardio
Ok, this is pretty obvious but heading out for a walk, run or cycle is a really easy way to improve your aerobic fitness. A lot of people have used lockdown to explore their local area more. New routes have been discovered, hidden gems and wildlife spots have been stumbled upon. Supporting your heart health is hugely important, especially as a middle-aged woman. Oestrogen is cardio-protective, meaning that after the menopause (when oestrogen declines) it’s vital for us to exercise and keep on top of cardiovascular health. You don’t necessarily need to go far or be fast. If you’re a novice runner (or need to go back to basics) you could try following a ‘Couch to 5k’ programme. This is such a great resource for gradually increasing your distance and pace.
2. Family outing
Perhaps going out for a walk or run is something you can only dream of. You love the idea, but there are little people in your life who make simple things (like a solo bike ride) a complete luxury! So here’s a crazy idea – incorporate them into your exercise. Yes, there will be interruptions and no, your pace won’t be as fast. But you will be killing two birds with one stone and setting a wonderful example for your kids. Perhaps you could kick a football around, or throw a frisbee, or create an obstacle course? We’ve been enjoying a lot of scatch with our five year old! If you don’t have enough outdoor space at home, then head over to a local recreation ground. Another option, depending on the age of your children, would be for them to ride a bike while you walk or run alongside them. Maybe your kid is big enough to be your pacesetter!
If you are lucky enough to have a garden, that space – no matter how small – provides a wealth of opportunities to exercise. Gardening itself is hard work! It’s also incredibly therapeutic, so tend to those flower beds or create that decked area you’ve always wanted to. There are also lots of ways you can use common garden items to create a bodyweight circuit: Tricep dips and step ups on a bench, shuttle runs up and down the lawn, using a shed for modified press-ups or even handstand practice!
At the time of writing, bootcamps and outdoor exercise classes are still not open, but they could well be by the time this goes to print. Joining a group is a great way to connect with others, stay accountable, and not have to think about what exercises to do. The extra motivation provided by being part of a community means you’re much more likely to keep at it. And outdoor exercise classes (like my WOW sessions) make social distancing entirely achievable. If joining a bootcamp-type class isn’t possible, then you could join an online offering and participate in your back garden. Or you could meet a friend and take it in turns to plan a session? A workout buddy is definitely permitted under the guidelines and will encourage you to keep heading out!