Fitness

17 ways to get active outside

©iStockphoto.com/digitalskillet Image by: ©iStockphoto.com/digitalskillet Author: Canadian Living

Fitness

17 ways to get active outside

Escape into the great outdoors – the green gym – and exercise becomes more holistic, inspiring your spirit and calming your mind while toning your muscles. In one study, 72 per cent of green gym participants were still active after six months – you can't say that for many gym memberships.

1. Join a green gym
Although there are set warm-up and cool-down routines in a "green gym", there are no gym-like exercises. You get fit by helping to conserve the landscape (usually in a country park or wildlife sanctuary) – cutting back undergrowth, making paths, and building dry-stone walls, hedging or planting trees, with all the walking, carrying, and digging such tasks involve. The activities change with the seasons and as you work, you learn about biodiversity and habitat, and the history of the landscape or species you're helping to conserve. The biggest buzz is not the noticeable effects on body and mind or the close friendships forged, but the tangible results on the landscape. 

2. Country garden exercise
The grounds of many country houses or gardens feature trails suited to different levels of fitness and ability, from wheelchair tracks and one-mile beginner walks to high-energy hill climbs. Some doctors may be able to enrol you on a leisure-walking scheme that offers free entry and a guide. Walk with the seasons and savour the differences as the months roll by.

3. Seasonal fun

Plan walks that change with the seasons – find circular trails that take in spring blossom, bluebell woods, displays of autumn foliage, and early morning winter frosting.


Page 1 of 4 - Eager to explore? Go for a walk outside, or try birdwatching. Find more tips for staying in shape on page 2.



Excerpted from 1,001 Ways to Get in Shape, copyright 2009 by Susannah Marriott. Used by permission of Dorling Kindersley. All Rights Reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced except with permission in writing from the publisher. 4. Walk a barefoot trail
Outdoor barefoot walking trails are popular in Germany and China, and 2005 research showed that over their various-textured surfaces for 30 minutes three times a week for four months improved balance and blood pressure. Make a barefoot trail in your garden by laying down garden canes, gravel and pebbles, crunchy leaves and bark chippings, soft sand, cold water, and even mud. Take off your shoes and walk over each surface very slowly.

5. Country walk

At the weekend, appreciate the countryside in which your food grows by planning out a walk that takes in a farm shop or farm-gate stall. As you walk, notice how the methods of cultivation and choice of crop or livestock have moulded the look of the countryside, and point this out to children to help them make the connection between what they eat and where it grows.

6. Watch the birdie

In the spring take a walk in local woodlands or reed-beds as the sun rises to see how many birdsongs you can recognize. Dawn-chorus walks organized by experts help novices learn to identify calls, and improve fitness while they are at it.

7. No time to walk?
Walk by night, when work and housework are over and children are in bed. Is there a full-moon or women's nightwalking group in your area? Try to walk in silence, at least one way to better experience night's different sounds and textures. There is safety in numbers, so take a friend.

8. Learn country crafts

Country crafts sessions using native materials get you out into the countryside gathering materials before teaching the intellectual skills and body know-how to work them into beautiful objects. Look for courses in basket-weaving, building willow structures, rope-making, carving greenwood furniture, or hedgerow winemaking.


Page 2 of 4 - Learn how to relax and use nature as therapy with helpful advice on page 3.



Excerpted from 1,001 Ways to Get in Shape, copyright 2009 by Susannah Marriott. Used by permission of Dorling Kindersley. All Rights Reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced except with permission in writing from the publisher.

9. "Grow your own" day
Open days at organic farms and agricultural colleges offer outdoor talks, demonstrations, and hands-on guides to cultivating vegetables. Sometimes there's a focus on one crop, such as chillies or onions, with resident experts, and at other venues you get to cook and eat the produce.

10. Try a conservation vacation

Visit some of the finest landscapes in the world and help to conserve them as you tone up, whether working on sites of classical heritage in Albania, doing coastal work to benefit birds and their nest-building in Bulgaria, or conserving the habitat of endangered primates in Cameroon. Accommodation is often simple and you have to help out with cooking, but that only adds to the sense of adventure. To find opportunities, look at The Canadian Wildlife Federation's website.

11. Active learning

A 2004 review of research found that getting away from a book and computer-based setting enhances learning. Being active in memorable place has an especially positive impact on long-term fact-retention: the more senses you use as you learn, the more of the brain that is employed in retaining memory. If you are studying, get into the great outdoors to shape up your cognitive skills.

12. Wilderness therapy

Encourage kids to take part in outdoor activity camps and trips to wild places. A 2006 review of research concluded that wilderness experiences are very important for a child's physical, emotional, cognitive and mental, and social development. Being in extreme places seems to forge long-lasting behavioural changes by forcing young people to think responsibly, look after themselves, and protect others.


Page 3 of 4 - Give foodies in your house some time away from the kitchen. Hit the local farmer's market for fresh produce and a great morning outdoors!



Excerpted from 1,001 Ways to Get in Shape, copyright 2009 by Susannah Marriott. Used by permission of Dorling Kindersley. All Rights Reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced except with permission in writing from the publisher.


13. Grown-ups' summer camp
Don't let kids have all the fun – surprise them by booking yourself onto an activity camp this summer. Ease in gently with a yoga or t'ai chi camp, which offers teachers from diverse schools of practice and early-morning and late-night sessions. A hike camp with dawn-to-dusk guided walks may suit more seasoned exercisers, though even these include gentle rambles and nature-watching sessions suitable for novices.

14. Take a city stroll

If you don't live near the countryside you can still exercise in a green way. Buy a guidebook or download a city walk that takes in handsome buildings, industrial heritage sites, rivers, parks, and cathedrals. If there's a tower, climb the steps to the top for a panoramic view.

15. Celebrate seasonal fare

In town, seek out seasonal festivals celebrating the harvest. At apple days, sample local varieties and take part in apple-bobbing games; at a tomato festival, sign up for a fruit-throwing contest; at eggplant or pink onion time, enjoy speciality dishes and dancing till dawn.

16. City park fitness
If you like being pushed to achieve your best, look for army vets teaching fitness sessions in city parks. In addition to push-ups, instructors include team-building games such as tug of war and participants are graded by ability, with fitness-focused, weight-loss, and team-building options.

17. Scavenger hunt

Join a team to run about town or countryside for a day or weekend searching for items on a list and photographing them, or performing extreme (often embarrassing) tasks to order – and being taped in the act. The first to finish or the team with the most objects wins.


Page 4 of 4 - Discover great ways get in shape with outdoor activites and the "green gym" on page 1.



Excerpted from 1,001 Ways to Get in Shape, copyright 2009 by Susannah Marriott. Used by permission of Dorling Kindersley. All Rights Reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced except with permission in writing from the publisher.


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Fitness

17 ways to get active outside

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