Best outdoor activities for staying in shape

Monday July 8 2019

Exercising outdoors provides all the physical

Exercising outdoors provides all the physical benefits of indoor exerciseand can also provide vital exposure to sunlight that increases important levels of vitamin D, unlike indoor exercise. NET PHOTO 

By Joan Salmon

A regimen that must followed on a daily basis is something that bores me in no time. Even when it is as important as doing exercises, with time, it starts to feel like a chore and I enjoy it no more. That is why I have failed to diligently exercise. I simply want to enjoy but routine makes it boring.

But that stopped when I discovered that engaging in outdoor recreational activities would save me from detesting exercise time.
Elly Muhereza, a fitness coach, says outdoor exercise has a stronger effect on blood pressure and mood than indoor exercise.

“With all the scenery and change in environment, there is no way your mood would not change for the better. And with that, stress is relieved within minutes of getting exposed to nature,” he says.
However, there are times when all you have is the roadside for your outdoor. Muhereza suggests that you look for a place with less traffic to minimise accidents. Some of the activities you can engage in include:

Brisk walking
This simple and easy activity can be done even on the roadside for better joint strength. “Walking regularly will improve your bone and muscle strength, strengthen your heart, improve your weight while also keeping Type 2 diabetes away,” Muhereza says, adding that it does not have to be done for so long. “One can decide to walk for 10 minutes, thrice a day.”

Cycling
This has several benefits for your mind and body. “As a lower body workout, it works on your quads, calves and hamstrings. It will also afford you great cardiovascular training giving you a healthy heart, not to mention strengthening your biceps and triceps,” Muhereza shares.

Seeing that one does not bear weight while cycling, it is also ideal for those with joint injury or pain. For persons working at bettering their balance, Muhereza recommends cycling as pedalling calls for balancing which in turn improves one’s coordination. The benefits also stretch as far as relieving you of stress and if you can do it with friends, it is great for bonding and having a good time.

Swimming
This goes beyond having a good time, which in its own right helps to reduce stress, but transcends to improving your health. This low-impact exercise is known to help people who have suffered injuries to keep fit during their recovery process.
Ben Zabinga, a fitness coach, says swimming is possible without causing them any further strain.

He also says when swimming, resistance training is achieved which betters muscle strength as well as tonning them. More to that, muscle flexibility is increased as one swims because muscles are stretched with every move.
As you float, Zabinga says, you dull the sensory information, creating a sense of calm which helps you calm and relieve stress. Besides that, the rhythmic movements and breathing can also provide meditative benefits.

Jogging
If you are better off quickening that brisk walk, then jogging is ideal. I have done 20 minutes of this at a rather slow pace in the cool of the evening to avoid the scorching sun and the benefits have been immense. Ensure that you jog from the side of oncoming traffic to avoid accidents.

Apart from sleeping better, your weight will be checked and muscles will get toned.
You do not have to get stressed about going to the gym or buying equipment in your home, the outdoors are another way to stay healthy while having fun.

Think ahead about safety
• Carry your ID with emergency contact information, and bring a small amount of cash and a cell phone with you, especially if walking alone. Stay alert by not talking on the phone as you walk.
• Let others know where you are going and when you plan to be back.
• Stick to well-lit places with other people around.
• Be seen to be safe. Wear light or brightly coloured clothing.
• Wear sturdy, appropriate shoes for your activity that give you proper footing.

jsalmon@ug.nationmedia.com

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