The benefits that come from participating in outdoor activities are unparalleled. In addition to engaging in activities that keep you physically healthy, breathing in the fresh air and immersing yourself in nature are proven to alleviate stress and anxiety. No one understands this better than immigration lawyer Jean Danhong Chen. Chen has been a lawyer since 1998 and since the start of her career, has made work-life balance a priority. Below, she outlines her three favorite outdoor activities and why she would recommend them to anyone.
First and foremost, hiking is an excellent form of exercise, claims Jean Danhong Chen. Hiking can increase one’s strength, stamina, and cardiovascular health. It’s also a physical activity suitable for people of all ages. With hiking, it’s about endurance rather than speed. So older people who may not be able to go for long-distance runs like they used to, will appreciate the “slow and steady” pace of hiking. Beyond physical health, going on a hike provides the opportunity to explore the great outdoors.
Spending time in nature has proven to boost energy, improve mood, reduce stress, and even help people sleep better. Immersing yourself in nature is also a wonderful way to learn more about the world around you. Notice the flora and fauna that surrounds you as you walk. Walking in nature serves as an impromptu yet valuable teaching lesson, where you can learn about the different types of plants, animals, and ecosystems that exist in your area.
Still not convinced? Jean Danhong Chen cites the low cost of hiking as another pro of this outdoor activity. Unlike certain sports that require lots of expensive equipment, all you need to hike is a pair of sturdy shoes. Most parks, apart from national parks, are free to visit, meaning you can spend a day hiking without paying a cent.
If you live near the mountains, chances are skiing is a popular outdoor activity. There are ski hills all over the United States. For Jean Danhong Chen who lives in San Jose, she often travels inland in California, where in approximately three hours, she can be at Bear Valley, Dodge Ridge, Boreal Mountain, or Donner Ski Ranch. More than mere proximity, there are plenty of reasons to take up skiing.
Skiing is a great way to exercise during winter as it works the core muscle groups of your body, improves balance, and increases strength. It is a total body workout. Second, skiing often provides an opportunity for travel. Jean Chen is a seasoned traveler who loves the sport because it provides her with an excuse to take a trip and visit somewhere that she hasn’t been before. Traveling to a ski resort is a fun and relaxing experience, filled with hot cocoa, fleece pajamas, and of course, hitting the slopes!
Although there is the perception that skiing is an expensive hobby, it has become increasingly less expensive as the years go by. Now more than ever, budget accommodations in popular ski towns are popping up. In addition, there are short-term rentals like Airbnb’s that make ski vacations much less costly. And don’t worry about having to buy brand new skis, boots, and poles for your trip — there are plenty of spots to rent gear for first timers.
Like hiking and skiing, biking is a fantastic form of exercise. If you’re looking to improve your heart health and build muscle, this is the activity for you. Cycling is a form of both cardio and muscle building, especially around the glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves.
In addition to improving your fitness, cycling is an excellent idea for those looking to lose weight. Cycling burns more calories than many other sports — in fact, depending on the intensity of your ride, you can expect to burn between 400 and 1,000 calories per hour. Third, research has shown that biking regularly can significantly reduce your chances of developing heart disease or cancer. Fourth, cycling is a low impact sport. This means it is particularly suited to people who suffer from joint problems, especially around the knees and ankles, as cycling takes the pressure off these sensitive areas.
Finally, Jean Danhong Chen emphasizes the environmental benefits of cycling. After taking up cycling as a hobby, you may eventually be inclined to make biking your primary mode of transportation. Unlike cars or buses, biking produces zero carbon pollution, which helps lower your carbon footprint.