The benefits of green exercise

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Jogging with our iPhones...

We all know that regular exercise is essential for both a healthy mind and body. According to the Mayo Clinic, taking regular exercise helps to prevent and improve a number of health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis. Indeed, research also shows that exercise can have a positive effect in reducing anxiety and improving mood.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I find the gym to be a particularly uninspiring place. You’ll get a good workout there, but have you ever considered the benefits of exercising in the outdoors? Being out in nature can truly help to lift the spirits, especially if you spend most of your day working in an office, stuck at a desk.

Research has shown that just five minutes of exercise in a “green space” such as a park can help to boost mental health. So perhaps it’s time to get out and enjoy the open air?

Let’s take a look at some ways to embrace nature and make it a part of your regular exercise routine.

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Get on your bike!
Most of us had bikes when we were kids, but how many of us still go cycling now we are adults? Cycling is a cheap, easy and fun way to get some good exercise in the outdoors. Try leaving your car at home and cycle to work one day, if that’s possible. Or, get the family together and go on a weekend bike ride. Check out the local cycle paths before you go, and plan a safe route. Make sure you take some healthy snacks with you to keep your energy levels up.

Warrior II

Try some outdoor yoga
Practising yoga can be great for reducing anxiety and aiding relaxation, so why not take your yoga mat and try out some asanas (yoga postures) in the open air? Yoga is great for stretching tight muscles and increasing flexibility as well as improving mobility, control and breathing. You can even get a fairly good cardio workout by performing vinyassa flow sequences, which will get your heart rate up. Why not finish your practice with some quiet meditation, to further still the mind? If you aren’t keen on the idea of practising yoga in your garden or the local park, look out for classes that take part in the open air.

Jogging couple

Go running
Instead of spending hours on the treadmill, grab a friend and go off for a jog around your local park, or some nature trails. Do some research to find out where your nearest country park is and make an afternoon of it. If you are used to running on a treadmill you may find it harder at first, so make sure you have some good, supportive running shoes. You could also find out where your nearest Park Run is. These are free, weekly, 5km timed runs which take place around the world. They are open to everyone, free, and are safe and easy to take part in.

Winding River By The Coast

Join a conservation group
Joining a conservation group is a great way of keeping fit whilst helping the world around you. Do some research into what’s going on in your local area and you could find yourself helping to plant trees, clear up rivers, maintain a nature reserve or build new footpaths. You never know, it could lead to new friendships, as well as the knowledge that you are doing something productive for your local area!

About the author: Liz Parry is a writer specialising in holistic health and wellbeing, personal development and spirituality. Follow her on Twitter and Google+

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