Warmer weather is officially here in West Michigan! This time of year is perfect for enjoying outdoor activities. There are so many options for outdoor exercise that can be very beneficial for our health and well-being. Running, biking, hiking, swimming and walking are great outdoor activities that have many health benefits. Don’t worry if you can’t do more strenuous activities, just walking is a great form of exercise.
I love to take walks in the summer -sometimes just around the neighborhood, sometimes on nearby trails. Not only is it great exercise, but it helps me to relax and clear my head. Taking walks with a friend or a family member is even better. You can chat and exercise at the same time!
A systematic review published by the Environmental Science and Technology Journal supports outdoor exercise and its benefits for overall health and well-being. According to this review of multiple studies, exercising outdoors was associated with greater feelings of revitalization and positive engagement. In addition, it found that daily outdoor exercise decreases tension, confusion, anger, and depression, and increases energy.
I have found these findings to be true in my own outdoor journey. Just being out in nature helps revitalize me and improve my mood. Taking hikes with my dog is one of my favorite past times, and the exercise I get as a result is so much more rewarding then the exercise I would get stuck inside on a treadmill.
Walking can be a great outdoor exercise for all ages. It helps improve your circulation and strengthen your heart to decrease the risk of heart disease. The weight bearing caused by this activity can also help to limit bone loss from osteoporosis. Walking is also very helpful for those that suffer from arthritis. The impact from movement and compression helps to circulate lubricating synovial fluid to the joints. This can significantly help to decrease overall pain levels and stiffness.
So don’t be afraid to get out and walk, even if you are in pain! Start slow and only walk short distances. Don’t worry about hiking five miles, or running a 5k. Work your way up as you are able to. So, get outside and enjoy this beautiful Michigan summer!