This may not be true for everywhere in the country, but many of us are already seeing signs of spring, which means that we can start to take ourselves back into the great outdoors. Lifting weights or walking on the treadmill are excellent ways to stay fit, but we often see that the most durable habits are tied to something we really enjoy.
That can mean understanding the connection between eating healthier and living longer—so you get more time to spend with the people you love—but it can also be something as simple as having fun. If you enjoy a healthy activity, you’re more likely to stick with it. Some people genuinely enjoy being in the gym, and others need a little bit more of a nudge. For the individuals that struggle with staying active, building on the idea of fun becomes even more important.
So with spring and summer ahead of us, here are five ideas for injecting a little bit more fun as well as the beauty of nature into your exercise routine:
- Go on walks with friends (furry ones count too). Exercising is almost always easier with a buddy, and sharing a stroll through a park or down your favorite neighborhood street can help you to stay active, build stronger relationships with the people you care about, and also help you to benefit from the proven benefits of being near nature and exposed to some sunlight.
- Join a recreational club or league. The popularity of playing sports just for fun is growing among adults, making it easier than ever to find people to meet and play with. That also means that you are likely able to find a club or league geared toward your age group as well. If you’re worried that you aren’t fit enough for something competitive, that’s okay! Taking half an hour to casually shoot some hoops or taking an afternoon to walk the golf course (leave the golf cart at the club house!) are good places to start.
- Take your indoor activities outside just because. Activities like yoga or group meditation are in high demand, and that means people are finding more creative ways to enjoy them. Yoga events in parks in particular are becoming more common, and you could even find something more novel like yoga on paddleboards if you look hard enough. The point is that just because you’re used to doing something inside doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it outside as well.
- Fall in love with nature. You don’t need to be the ultimate outdoors expert to pick up hiking or kayaking. There are a lot of low-intensity trails and paddle spots that you can take advantage of using minimal equipment. For hiking on a beginner trail, a good pair of shoes and lots of water is all you need! If you aren’t sure where to start, look around for group activity options. A lot of parks and nature conservation organizations coordinate regular group outings that are fun and often educational as well.
- Respect the great outdoors. Being active outside can lead to a range of health benefits, but don’t forget to keep your wits about you as well. Use sunscreen, stay hydrated, and avoid doing intense activities during intense heat. While you’re looking out for yourself, look out for nature too. Leave your outdoor adventure spots cleaner than when you found them, and encourage the people around you to do the same.
For me and my family, we try to get outside year-round—skiing in the winter and boating in the summer. We love stepping away from the bustle of our daily lives to enjoy the beautiful places in the world and to spend quality time with each other. I hope that you can find a special outlet like that in your life as well. So start looking!