The longer days are here for the next few months. There is enough time for most of us before and or after work to get out and get moving in the day light.
Exercise outdoors is particularly beneficial. We get our dose of vitamin D and a boost to our physical and mental health and the feeling of wellbeing. Exercise prevents disease, improves our quality of life and is also shown to have economic, social and cultural benefits.
A 2018 World Health Organisation (WHO) study suggested that 1.5 billion adults around the world are not getting enough exercise with more than one quarter of the global population doing less than the minimum recommended level of 2.5 hours of moderate intensity exercise (150 minutes) per week. With 168 hours in the week it is not a big ask to devote just 1.5 percent of it to keep your body in shape so it can support you and take you where you want to go in life.
Lack of exercise gives increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, a range of cancers and dementia. Exercise is also a key part of any sustained weight loss programme. It is good for bone and muscle health.
The same research of the WHO suggests that 32.7 per cent of Irish adults do not get enough exercise (28.3 per cent of men and 37.1 per cent amongst women).
If you want to exercise but find it difficult to do so, schedule it at a time when you are not too tired and or likely to cancel. Make a plan to go with someone else. This makes it more likely for it to happen if you are likely to procrastinate, provided of course you pick an exercise partner that is more enthusiastic than you. Here are a few ways to fit in more outdoor exercise in your day.
1. Walk. You can go for a walk before or after work. Before work is a great time to get your mind and body set for your day and even plan your day and your 'must dos'. After work is a great time to reflect on your day, learn the lessons, plan what to take for tomorrow, let the rest go and enjoy nature.
2. Garden - Gardening is a great way to spend time outdoors. Studies have shown it to reduce stress (and levels of cortisol, the stress hormone) and boost mood, self-esteem and alleviate depression. It is also shown to boost heart health and reduce stroke risk. It improves hand strength and dexterity keeping hand muscles agile. Alternate use of your right and left hands is a great way to keep your brain functioning well as you age. Gardening is also great for your immune system. The 'Mycobacterium vaccae' bacteria - found in garden dirt has been seen to alleviate symptoms of psoriasis, allergies and asthma: all of which happen when your immune system is weak. The experience of surrounding ourselves by nature and growing things makes us feel more alive and has also been shown to aid in recovery from illness.
3. Meet Friends outdoors and go for a walk or cycle (and picnic)
4. Do the park run - on every Saturday morning all around Ireland. This is also a lovely way to meet people.
Apart from how good it is for you, it feels great to get out and get moving. It is fun. It boosts your skin health, vitality and happiness levels.
It also helps with sleep, relaxation and brain health. When done with others, it provides great time for laughter, meaningful connection and bonding.