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It's Great to be Outdoors

IT’S GREAT TO BE OUTDOORS

“Grab your coat and get your hat 
Leave your worries on the doorstep 
Just direct your feet 
to the sunny side of the street” ....Louis Armstrong

A great song and with sound advice which could prove beneficial to your health.  But why?

Being active and out in the fresh air can leave you feeling exhilarated and not exhausted which is what many experience after sweating it out inside a Gym.  Out in the fresh air is for free and (hopefully) away from pollution is good for our bodies and naturally helps us improve our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

Being in the great outdoors can give us a sense of freedom, it can put us in touch with nature, and is a tonic in itself.  A few tips will help you benefit from the experience, the first being a plea to leave your electronic devices at home for an hour or so!  Take time off from technology to mentally “re-charge” YOUR own batteries, to free you from the stress that so often accompanies the PC, IPod or Smartphone.

Then make certain you use your time out in the open air to open you up to new and beneficial experiences.  For me, simple walking does the trick and walking briskly has health benefits for us all.  I live by the River Thames and am immediately transported to another world the moment my boots hit the tow path or the river bank.  I find the experience both therapeutic and liberating.

Whether you decide to walk, run, jog or cycle just relax into and enjoy your surroundings. Give your eyes and mind a rest from those TV and PC screens and the troubles of your everyday life. The colour green is therapeutic (as a “Green Goddess” I should know) so enjoy the sight of the green grass, shrubs and trees and soothe not only your eyes, but your soul at the same time.

Being outdoors and in the company of good friends, whether playing sport, bowling or perhaps pursuing an outdoor hobby such as bird watching or fishing can be both sociable and therapeutic.  If you are amongst friends so much the better, it gives you the chance to talk about things that might be worrying you and this can put your life back into perspective.

Take the opportunity to walk, talk and broaden your horizon. Walking the dog is perhaps the best way for many people to get on out there, its simple stuff which both you and your pet can benefit from. But maybe now and again let FIDO lead you!  Given the lead he may walk you into surprising places and you may re-discover or explore areas hitherto unknown to you!

Most activities outdoors will improve your wellbeing and fitness in 3 ways...all beginning with S.  First your Stamina will improve (cardio-vascular fitness), in other words the efficiency of your heart and lungs by deep breathing in all that fresh air. When you move around, maybe on your allotment or attending your garden you will gradually build up the Strength of your muscles, and you will encourage your whole body to improve its Suppleness.

Fresh air and sunshine in particular, has an effect on our skin and bones.  It is best to protect skin from harmful rays by using a sun cream if you are likely to be exposed for long periods.  But for most people a minimum of 10 minutes exposure to the sun every day can help protect against the insidious bone disease osteoporosis, which affects 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men over the age of 50.  Osteoporosis is a condition that affects the bones, causing them to become weak, fragile and more likely to break (fracture).The National Osteoporosis Society recommends us to” get outside for a few minutes every day between May and September to boost our vitamin D levels.” Vitamin D has been long known to improve bone health, by helping our bodies’ process calcium effectively.  This is essential for bone and muscle health as it promotes calcium absorption from our food. Our bones need vitamin D to make them strong and vitamin D may play an important role in muscle function too.

 

Whatever the motive that takes you into the great outdoors the experience will be all the better if you wear suitable clothing for the occasion.  So keep your wellies and walking boots to hand, stuff an umbrella or waterproof cagoule into your pocket AND BE PREPARED.  Footwear is so important for both safety and comfort in making the time outdoors really enjoyable for you.  And if possible don’t carry bags, this will allow you to swing your arms freely so that your whole body benefits from the movement.

And while you’re out there take time to look around you, to appreciate the sights and sounds of nature, all too easily obscured by the frantic pace of modern life.  And you don’t have to go into the countryside to experience this!  Within most UK cities are marvellous parks which too many people never find time to visit.  Some have ponds and lakes which attract wildlife.  So take time to sit down in the fresh air and enjoy the tranquillity.  Spend a quiet moment or two observing nature, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the birds, small animals and insects you will see.

It’s a known fact that the more active you are the more you will want to do.  Chemicals called “endorphins” are released when you are active and they give you that “feel good” factor making you want to go on that little bit longer.  Don’t knock it, and try to build up the amount of active time you spend outdoors in the fresh air for your health’s sake!

 

 


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