Summer Reset – Lace Up and Head to The Great Outdoors for Fitness and Mental Health
Is summer already getting away from you? Can you feel the fall knocking on your door? Are you wondering how to make these last few weeks of summer count, so you go into September renewed and energized? Great! This is the perfect time to take a beat and create your summer reset. And considering the stress of the last 18 months, it’s likely a bit overdue.
Whether you live in an urban jungle or on a mountaintop, There’s no better place to get the energy and mental boost than in the great outdoors. So, lace up and let’s get started. Here’s how you can expect to benefit from getting out and under the clouds.
What’s so great about being outside? While there’s nothing wrong with imagining you are in a group class while on your Peloton, being outdoors stimulates your creativity in an entirely different way. Every path, tree and cloud is unique, which shifts your perspectives and thought patterns on a deep level. If you are feeling stagnant in work, life, love or on a project. Slip on some good quality walking shoes like the Vionic Layla and go exploring. Leave the audio books and music off, instead immerse yourself fully in seeing, smelling and listening to nature. Allowing yourself to be fully present in the moment rather than distracting yourself from it expands your ability to think, ahem, outside of the box, which means that the solution to that problem may be a lot closer to discovery than you realize.
Sunshine sometimes gets a bad rap. And let’s be honest, too much sun can be problematic, especially if you are not using SPF, aren’t drinking water or spend too much time being active in the sun without taking a break. No one wants to deal with a sun burn, skin cancer, dehydration and exhaustion. The flip side, however, is that sunshine is a natural mood booster. Vitamin D, which is what our bodies produce when exposed to direct sunlight, is a key component in boosting our immune system… as well as our mental health. Studies have shown that Vitamin D deficiencies were common among those experiencing anxiety and depression.
Being active outside and spending time in nature can relieve stress by allowing a reprieve from strict, rigid schedules, far beyond the cubicle (or in this past year, kitchen table and laptop). In fact, it can reduce the feelings of stress and pressure that comes from time schedules. In fact, some studies have discovered the time spent outdoors reduces the stress hormone cortisol, the stress hormone. Spending time exercising outdoors not only reduces this, but your blood pressure levels as well.
Up Your Calorie Burn Without Even Trying
When we exercise outdoors, we’re faced with many more “elements” than in the controlled climate of a gym. Unexpected bumps, holes, inclines, obstacles, even the weather all increase the difficulty of your workout without any addition of weights or bands. It can challenge our bodies to work in unanticipated ways, adapt, and switch direction without notice, which can make our outdoor fitness routine even more functional. And since you’ll be feeling so good from the reduced stress levels, you may be more likely to push yourself a little farther and harder than when you’re at home, surrounded by distractions.
And remember, exercise comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Grab a friend and go for a hike. Dust off the bicycle and get to know a new neighborhood. Find a park and remind yourself how to play frisbee, or simply take a stroll to decompress after a long day. No matter what, you’ll be taking care of yourself, and doing your body good while you’re at it.