Everyone has been talking about the green wave since the recent elections. It seems everything is going green, our cars, our energy, our meals, and now we have green exercise. I didn’t realise it had a name until recently, but it seems exercising in nature has been dubbed green exercise. And I’m all for it!
I think being outdoors is the best place to exercise. You have loads of fresh air to increase the oxygen flow to the body and give you more energy and, I believe, just being outside in nature is good for the mind and the soul. And I’m not alone in thinking this.
Scientists have also been investigating the impact of green exercise and found that it has several psychological and physiological benefits. It is reported to improve mood, attention, heart rate, blood pressure and cortisol compared to exercise in built, man-made environments.
There have been lots of studies into this and there are more studies looking at how green exercise can help with stress or anxiety.
Before I moved to Ireland, I never appreciated the weather in the way I do now. Irish people have a very special and unusual relationship with the weather, it’s a favourite topic of conversation and determines so much of what people do. For some people it’s a barrier, or an excuse, not to exercise, but I don’t think it should get in the way of our fitness. Unless there is a weather warning, there is no reason we can’t get outdoors to exercise, and I think it’s great for our health and wellbeing.
That’s why I love this time of year. My outdoor classes have restarted and, given the brighter evenings and warmer days, everyone is happier to be outside working out. Where possible, I will also do my one-to-one sessions outside.
I’ve always been an outdoors person. In Sweden you will often pass cafes and restaurants where buggies are parked outside with small babies wrapped up and sleeping in the fresh air, even in winter.
I think the rain is the most likely thing to put people off exercising outdoors, and, unfortunately, we seem to be getting a lot of it right now. I actually think it can be quite nice to have some rain, especially if you are pushing yourself hard. It will help cool you down and if you’re going to be sweating anyway, what’s the difference? If you do get wet while training, it is important, however, that you have a change of clothes or change as quickly as you can so you don’t catch a chill, but other than that, you need to embrace it.
I got quite lucky recently when I was heading for the gym to do some leg work. It was a beautiful day, and I decided to make a u-turn to head for the mountains instead. It was a cold but sunny and bright day. It was a glorious day to be outdoors and I walked up the mountain, exercising my legs and glutes, breathing in the fresh mountain air and soaking in vitamin D (wearing my obligatory sunscreen obviously). I went home afterwards feeling energised and slept really well that night.
People often talk about the mid-afternoon slump, usually around 3pm. This is partially because you have raised your sugar levels at 1pm with lunch and then you stay sitting around at a desk for the afternoon, as the sugar hit dips many people will reach for the coffee, but a quick walk outside is far better for you.
If you are thinking of going to the gym and the weather is nice, why not see what you can do in the park.
Are there steps? Great for the glutes. Take two at a time or run up and down. A hill will do well for this too.
Is there a park bench? Use this to do tricep dips, or push ups using the upright piece at the back.
Is there an empty goal? You could use this to do pull ups.
I know it’s exam time and we should be having a mini heatwave right now, but we’re not. But don’t let that stop you. Get up, get out and make the most of the outdoors – especially in the summer months.
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