“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul” John Muir
With the everyday stresses of life, more and more people are going outdoors to unplug, connect with nature and to de-stress. Sure, you can hit the gym or go to your favorite class, but there is something so invigorating about walking barefoot in the sand or scrambling over boulders, or getting your hands dirty in the earth. Yes, I am a personal trainer and C-IAYT yoga therapist, but I do not have a gym membership. Nature is my playground and my sanctuary.
Here are my top 5 Outdoor Workouts for the Body and Soul that require little to no equipment.
1. Hiking. There is nothing more rejuvenating than spending time in nature, observing the flora and fauna, breathing in fresh air, while getting a great workout. Go online and search hikes in your area. Hikespeak is a great site. http://www.hikespeak.com/ Most cities have hiking sites where you can enter proximity, difficulty, duration, and additional requests, such as waterfalls or scenery. Do not hike alone. If you don't have someone to hike with, find a Meetup or check out hikes through REI where you can hike with a group.
2. Stairs. Stairs offer an excellent cardiovascular and lower body workout. Google Stair Workouts in your city, or if you're in Los Angeles, check out these great Stair Workouts. http://www.welikela.com/10-cool-staircases-los-angeles/
3. Beach. I realize not all cities have beaches, but if you live near a lake, that would be another great option. Walk on the sand. Meditate and listen to the ebb and flow of the water. Go for a swim.
4. Gardening. Dig holes. Pull weeds. Plant vegetables. Plant a tree! Soil contains microbes that are beneficial to our immune system. A strain of bacterium in soil, Mycobacterium vaccae, has been found to trigger the release of seratonin, which decreases anxiety. http://www.healinglandscapes.org/blog/2011/01/its-in-the-dirt-bacteria-in-soil-makes-us-happier-smarter/Get dirty! http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/12/23/soil-quality.aspx
5. Walk a Dog. According to numerous research studies, dog owners enjoy social and health benefits by walking their dogs a few times a week. These benefits include improved cardiovascular fitness, decreased stress, and stronger muscles and bones. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/dog-walking-the-health-benefits
Allergic to dogs? Walk with a friend instead. Don't have a dog? Volunteer at your local animal rescue to walk shelter dogs. The dogs need the exercise and appreciate your companionship. Westside German Shepherd Rescue in Los Angeles has monthly hikes where they ask for volunteers to hike their dogs. Check out their site to volunteer. http://www.sheprescue.org/volunteers.htm
Health and wellness encompass mind and body. It is important to move and to keep your body healthy and strong, but remember to also do things for your soul. Love yourself, make others smile, take up a new hobby, play in the rain, laugh, sing, take naps, dance, do something that scares you.