You Don’t Need A Gym To Get The Benefits Of Exercise

All you need is fresh air.

If people who bounce out of bed annoy you, become one of them. Photo: Rob Mulally

Do you ever feel flat, sad, mad, bad? Do you feel lethargic, rushed, drained, stressed out, fuzzy, frantic, teary, chocolate deprived, sugar obsessed or just plain fed up? Do you ever smash around blindly in the dark to turn your alarm off, wishing you could just stay under the doona forever? Do people who bounce out of bed annoy you?

This used to be me. It’s many of us.

I might not have depression or anxiety, but I use walking daily to clear my head and boost my mood.

Recently, a friend of mine, let’s call her Susie, was really struggling. She realised she was missing something in her busy urban life, and so she reached out to her psychologist to get help with her worrisome thoughts and anxiety. As well as therapy, her psych mentioned that walking in nature could really help. So she phoned a friend and off they went along the river for a walk.

“We did it in our lunch break and it was so energising,” she told me. “We both felt great. But I need it every day to ward off worry.”

I do, too. I might not have depression or anxiety, but I use walking daily to clear my head and boost my mood.

Walking to wellness works. It’s also one of the best, cheapest, easiest things you can do to relieve symptoms of sadness and stress.

Dr Caroline West, one of Australia’s best-known media doctors, says it’s great for everybody, especially those in stressful jobs. And you don’t have to fly to a forest or bike to the beach. You can just stroll around a garden or park for 10 minutes a day.

Hiking heals because it connects us with our fundamental nature. Walking works because it engages our bodies and minds in a way that rejuvenates, revitalises and stimulates our biochemistry to repair and supercharge itself. It has so many good side effects and no bad ones.

Stop worrying about whether you can squeeze in a gym workout in your lunch break or a weights session after work.

Mark Wahlqvist, Emeritus Professor of Medicine at Monash University, recommends “walking 30 to 40 minutes a day; keeping a garden; and ensuring access to a natural environment”.

So stop worrying about whether you can squeeze in a gym workout in your lunch break or a weights session after work. Get outside, leap some puddles, feel the wind in your hair and the sunbeams dancing on your toes.

Here are some ideas to help you incorporate the nurturing power of nature into your day:

Get outside

Get the goodness of green every day with a walk in the park, a stretch on the grass, a hug of a tree or a stroll in the garden.

See the sunrise

Put comfy shoes and clothes out before you go to bed so you can slip straight into them for a sunrise stroll when the birds call.

Phone a friend

Meet a friend for your walking ritual so you motivate each other. When you integrate physical with social activity you feel better.

Inspire your family

Getting your partner or kids into nature will benefit you all.

Integrate it into your life

Take walks in nature to and from work or in your lunch break, even if it means taking a detour to get the goodness of green.

Explore on the weekends

Visit local parks, the seaside, forests, bushland, gardens and wilderness on weekends with friends and family.

Garden

Get into gardening to rejuvenate and recharge. If you don’t have a garden, join a community garden. If you’re too busy, take the kids to a friend or family’s garden for the day.


Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com on May 19, 2017.

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