Over the past couple of years, more than half of us have started taking up new forms of exercise. New trends are sweeping in to replace old habits, and outdoor exercise, in particular, is seeing a major boost in popularity. It's great for getting you out of the house and helping you to connect with nature. If you've been thinking about getting back out there and improving your fitness, outdoor exercise may be the new habit you've been looking for.
Exercise Habits During Lockdown
At the beginning of the first national lockdown, exercise habits hit a temporary low. Gyms and leisure centres closed, classes were cancelled, and anxiety kept people indoors. Whilst home workouts saw an increase in popularity it was not until the sixth week of lockdown that the majority of people felt confident to leave their home for exercise.
With this change in attitude came a surge in outdoor exercise. This increase was most prevalent amongst people who were working from home. More than three quarters of home workers left the house to exercise, heading to their local parks. The increase in exercising coincided with an increased interest in nature-based activities such as birdwatching.
As we make our way through 2022, the popularity of outdoor exercise remains high, and it looks set to be the big fitness trend of the new year.
The Benefits of Outdoor Exercise
Getting out and about does wonders for your wellbeing. Even a fifteen-minute walk can boost your mood and improve your health.
Improve Your Mental Health
Social distancing and shielding led to a major increase in loneliness and isolation amongst the elderly. A lack of interaction with loved ones can often result in deteriorating mental health. Getting out of the house and going for a walk can help to alleviate stress. You may also bump into friends, allowing you to socialise.
Mental health can often take a hit in the winter months. Many people struggle over Christmas or in the New Year. You may have heard of the “winter blues” or “Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)”; these are names given to seasonal patterns in mental health.
Now that the weather is improving, a short walk through your local park or down to the shops could help to clear your mind and improve your mood. If you are worried about a fall or feeling unwell, consider going out with a friend or family member. You might also want to invest in a mobility aid.
It’s never too late to improve your fitness. It is just as important for the elderly to exercise as it is for anyone else. Regular exercise helps to combat high blood pressure, burn fat, and improve circulation. It will also help you to build up your strength, which can help prevent falls.
Walking is ideal for building up the muscles in your legs, and as you feel more confident, you may want to try other forms of exercise such as cycling. Of course, the most important thing is to know your limits. Whilst the NHS recommends doing 150 minutes of exercise a week, not all of this needs to be spent power-walking.
Connect With Nature
In an age of increasing urbanisation, many of us have lost our connection to the natural world. We might see the occasional bird through our kitchen window or enjoy the shade of a tree, but we’re rarely far away from the rushing of cars or the cold brick of a house. Outdoor exercise could be what you need to forge a newfound love for nature.
In fact in 2020, the RSPB saw an increase of web traffic with people looking for birdwatching hotspots. Taking some time every week to visit a nature trail affords you with plenty of opportunities for sighting elusive animals. A trip to a forest gets you away from the hustle and bustle of towns. If you have friends who are also looking to enjoy outdoor exercise, why not arrange a walking trip?
And you need not worry about getting lost on your explorations. As well as most routes being well signposted, there are also plenty of apps to support you when out and about. For example, if you need to call for help, what3words could help the emergency services find your exact location.
Over the lockdowns, loneliness in the elderly population became far more prevalent. Social distancing and shielding meant that many elderly people were unable to see their loved ones. This had a drastic effect on their mental health.
Engaging in outdoor exercise enables you to spend time with friends or family. You will be out in the fresh air, taking time to catch up and have a laugh. This can help fight the symptoms of isolation and boost your mood.
Ideal Outdoor Exercise for the Elderly
Amongst the easiest forms of outdoor exercise to engage in, walking is great for building up your strength and getting outside. A steady walk can make it easy to clear your mind, and it’s a form of exercise that can be gradually increased in intensity. As you feel your strength improving, start picking up the pace every so often. Extend your routes and take different paths; a climb up a hill will push you harder.
Walking can aid with circulation, strengthens the heart and lungs, and has even been found to help prevent dementia. Plus, it’s one of the few forms of exercise that allows you to talk easily whilst doing it!
Cycling or Running
Cycling is great for building up muscle, but it also benefits your cardiovascular health and improves your balance. Maintaining good fitness in these areas will help you feel more confident at home, as you will be less likely to have a fall. Like walking, you can gradually increase your cycling habits. Start with short rides on level terrain, and slowly push yourself to cycle along longer routes with hills.
If you don't have a bike, you can up your activity by going for a run. If walks are starting to feel a little too sedate, a steady jog will get the blood pumping. Even a five minute run once a week will do your body some good. Over time you will strengthen your muscles and build up your cardiovascular endurance. When you feel strong enough, why not join a fun run?
Even just moving around in the garden counts as outdoor exercise. Watering your plants with a watering can helps to strengthen the muscles in your arm and digging up weeds can also be a good workout. Doing a few daily jobs in your garden will soon add up. The benefits of gardening include a lower risk of osteoporosis and some cancers; your mental health will also see an improvement.
And there is no need to worry about having a fall in your garden. Our fall detector plan will automatically send an alert if it sense a fall, and its 100m range means it will still operate outside.
A full game of golf can be a great workout, exercising your legs, arms, lungs, and heart. You could walk up to four miles for a single 18-hole game, and every swing you take will work your muscles. A few good stretches before you begin will ward off too many aches and pains. Of course, golf is also a very social game, which brings its own benefits to your wellbeing.
Whilst yoga can easily be done in the comfort of your own home, there is something freeing about doing it in the open air. This is an activity best done in summer when the weather is warmer. Yoga helps to increase blood flow and relieve stress. It can also help with arthritis.
If you are unsure about trying yoga, or want to build up your strength first, consider reading our post on chair yoga. It will provide you with some easy poses to ease you into the art.
Swimming in an outdoor pool is the perfect activity for summer. It is great for building up strength without putting too much strain on the body. Water helps to cushion the joints, allowing you to move around without putting undue strain on your muscles. A few laps in the pool can help build up your cardio endurance. Alternatively, you may find that walking around a shallow pool is less tiring than a walk along a road.
For the more adventurous among you, why not try wild swimming? It comes with additional benefits, such as helping blood circulation in ways normal swimming does not.
Exercise Safely with Lifeline24
Here at Lifeline24 we want our customers to feel confident at home. As part of our commitment to your wellbeing, we offer the Fall Detector plan. This fantastic device provides you with 24/7 coverage 365 days a year.
For more information on the Fall Detector, check out our simple guide. You can also read our guide to the personal alarm service. If you still have any questions, please do not hesitate to call our helpful customer service team on 0800 999 0400.