Spending quality time in nature and healthy outdoor activities can yield significant health benefits.
Some health benefits of outdoor activities include:
- Reduced Stress: Research shows that exposure to nature and outdoor activities generally improves performance and enhances restoration for people suffering from mental fatigue. Outdoor activities also help reduce the production of essential stress hormones and help improve concentration.
- Outdoor activities also help stimulates all five senses, improve your self-esteem, and make you happier.
- Outdoor activities help increase the vitamin D levels in the body. Vitamin D is commonly known as the Sunshine vitamin due to skin exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D helps protect us against osteoporosis, cancers, depression, heart attacks, and even stroke. Too much exposure to the sun can lead to skin damage, and sunscreen can be used if you must stay outdoors for long hours. 10-15 mins of sunlight several days a week provides all the vitamin D that the body needs.
- Improved fitness and physical health: Another health benefit of outdoor activities is they help increase fitness, improve cardiovascular health, reduce obesity, reduce blood pressure, prevent various cancers, and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Healthy outdoor activities in warm-weather not only allow you to relax in nature it also helps you in breaking a sweat.
Eight (8) Easy Outdoor Activities Which can Help you Improve your Health and Fitness Include:
Walking is one of the most healthy outdoor activities. People can walk their dogs, take a stroll, or climb the stairs at work. Its health benefits are unrivalled. Walking help strengthen your leg muscles, improve your posture, and reduce the risk of various chronic diseases. In addition, taking an hour’s walk weekly has been shown to greatly reduce joint pain and inflammation. Taking regular walks has also been shown to decrease the risk of developing coronary heart disease and stroke. According to a study conducted by the British Journal for sports medicine, walking for as little as 20 mins daily, five days a week, was associated with a 43% reduction in sick days. Another study showed that women who walk seven or more hours weekly stand a 14% lower risk of developing breast cancer.
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Like walking, jogging is another healthy outdoor activity. Jogging can be defined as running at a pace of fewer than 6 miles per hour, and it has significant health and fitness benefits. Research shows that jogging improves cardiovascular health. Jogging can help in weight loss, as people have more success when jogging than just walking. It helps in strengthening the immune system; as researchers say, moderate exercise like jogging helps your body fight illness. Other benefits of outdoor activities like jogging are it helps people cope with depression, it helps you manage the negative effects of stress, and it could save your life as sedimentary lifestyles have been linked to premature death.
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Hiking is another very healthy outdoor activity, which is like walking, but it is a new experience and is always fun. Hiking is a great way to get fresh air, mostly for people living in urban areas. It involves exploring new trails of varying difficulties and lengths. Hiking has a lot of unknowns at the beginning, especially when hiking new routes. This makes it both a physical and mental challenge. However, hiking has great health benefits when surrounded by nature. Hiking helps build bone density as it is a weight-bearing exercise. It also helps improve sleep overall sleep quality, boosts happiness, and reduces depression. Research also shows that spending time among trees helps reduce blood glucose, reduce blood pressure, and improve your immune system.
Biking is another healthy outdoor activity. It is one of the healthiest and most low-impact forms of exercise. Biking can be a stress-relieving activity that can be mainly done outdoors as it is great for improving cardiovascular health. Biking is an aerobic activity that helps the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. The health benefits of Biking include-it increased muscle strength and flexibility, decreased stress levels, strengthened bones, decreased body fat levels, increased muscle strength and flexibility, prevention, preventing, and management of various diseases, and helps reduce anxiety and depression.
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This is a healthy outdoor activity that you can continue throughout your lifetime. It is a recreational activity that people of all ages can do. Swimming is a great workout as it exercises the whole body against the resistance of water. Swimming has various health and fitness benefits as it builds endurance, increases cardiovascular strength and muscle strength, it tones and builds bone strength, and helps maintain a healthy weight and healthy heart and lungs. Swimming also helps in improving coordination, balance, and posture; it improves body flexibility and reduces stress.
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This is a water sport that involves a double blade to paddle a kayak which is usually a small boat. Kayaking is a great exercise that exposes you to an intimate view of nature. Kayaking can be tranquil and can be done on rivers, streams, and lakes. Kayaks are usually small and are very easy to transport. The health benefits of kayaking include, it helps in weight loss as you burn calories while kayaking, it helps reduce stress, it provides a great upper body workout, it helps build your mental health as it triggers the release of brain chemicals which help improve mood. Kayaking also helps improve the heart, tone your legs, and provide core strengthening.
Group sports are another healthy outdoor activity. As we can engage in volleyball and football with our friends. These are fun workouts that do not feel like one as they can be done with a large group of family and friends. In addition to volleyball and football, you can compete in other group sports such as basketball, softball, long tennis, table tennis, and kickballs. These fields are commonly found in local parks, open spaces, and courts. The benefits of outdoor activities such as football and volleyball include: group sports help reduce obesity while increasing overall health, competition improves endurance, team sports increase long-term happiness, and it helps reduce stress and depression.
Yoga is a full mind and body exercise. Various yoga styles are a combination of physical postures, meditation or relaxation, and breathing techniques. The combination of moving your body through the various yoga poses and being sunshine can offer a mental and physical boost that can be soul-refreshing and strengthening. The health benefits of yoga include helping improve chronic low back pain, it helps build body awareness, it helps fight fatigue, it promotes balance, it eases you after regular exercise, helps your heart health, it enhances sleeping, it improves flexibility, and reinforcing better breathing. The mental benefit of yoga involves the improvement of health. It helps the mind relax, improves focus, and helps cultivate the body’s resilience.
Outdoor activities provide various health and fitness advantages to help us live healthier lives. It is therefore advisable in Nigeria to engage in one or two of these activities as it reduces the risk of getting ill. You can enjoy the outdoors while getting in your heart pumping and toning your muscles.
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- David Chiedozie Ndeokwelu is a graduate of Microbiology, who holds a Masters degree in public health. He is currently a medical student at the University of Ilorin and is passionate about fields of career, public health, entrepreneurship and career building.