Here comes the sun
Do you ever feel like everything is better when the sun is shining ? Well studies show that on bright , sunny days , people ’ s brains have higher levels of serotonin – the body ’ s natural mood stabiliser . Another mood booster the sunlight provides us with is vitamin D . On top of that , exercise stimulates the release of feel-good chemicals in our brain called endorphins . It ’ s no wonder that keeping physically active outside can vastly improve our mood and energy levels .
And here comes the heat
Summer in the southern states can be hot ! So it ’ s important to keep your eye on the forecast and factor in the weather . On really hot days , try to get out early , or later in the day when the sun is less intense and the temperature a little cooler . Always hydrate well before any kind of outdoor exercise in warmer weather and carry a water bottle with you . Don ’ t forget the sunscreen , a hat and cool , loose clothing .
Walk it off
Ever been told to “ walk it off ” during a heated moment ? It may be a commonly used idiom but perhaps for good reason . It works ! When we partake in bouts of physical activity , we experience lower levels of stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine . Bonus points if this physical activity occurs outside in the fresh air . Just being in nature for a short period of time is proven to be enough to reduce cortisol and stress levels , blood pressure and heart rate .
A welcome change
When it comes to exercising outdoors , variety is key to keeping yourself ( and little ones ) engaged . Think new beaches , cycling tracks , playgrounds and walking paths . Say goodbye to boredom and enjoy immersing yourself in your city ’ s fabulous backyard . A change in location also provides a wonderful opportunity to diversify your workout . From inclines and winding pathways to changes in terrain such as sand or gravel . Even a change in breeze or temperature can all increase the challenge of your workout as your body and mind must learn to adjust to its constantly changing environment .
Monkey see monkey do
As a parent , it can be easy to let your own exercise fall to the wayside . But where do kids love to be ? Yep , that ’ s right … outside ! So why not join them ?
WALKING OR BIKING TO SCHOOL OR THE LOCAL SHOPS CAN ALSO PROVIDE WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITIES TO GET ACTIVE .
Get bouncing on the trampoline , enjoy a game of backyard cricket or even get some music going and have an outdoor dance party with the kids . You could take it as an opportunity to relive your childhood days of hula hooping , totem tennis and my personal favourite – the skipping rope . If you often find yourself at the playground – big climbing towers , monkey bars and a game of tag are great ways to get the blood pumping . Walking or biking to school or the local shops can also provide wonderful opportunities to get active .
Showing your kids how you take care of yourself by staying active is one of the most important lifelong lessons you can teach them .
The great thing about exercising outdoors is the variety of physical activities to choose from . All you need to do is find one that works for you and your level of fitness and you are good to go !
YMCA HEALTHY LIVING MAGAZINE 11