Green exercise is physical activity that takes place in a natural setting. Research suggests exercising outdoors may increase the enjoyment and frequency of an activity along with more social interaction and connection with others. Engaging in just five minutes of green exercise has been reported to improve self-esteem and mood. Immersing yourself in natural landscapes every day has been shown to improve mental health by reducing levels of stress and anxiety, and may improve symptoms of depression. Being in nature also stimulates all the senses and may help improve sleep and restore your mind from fatigue. Easy ways to experience green exercise include:
- Take a walk, run or hike your favorite trail or park
- Work in your garden provides good exercise and wholesome foods (and/or beautiful flowers).
- Get on the water to swim or try standup paddle-boarding or kayaking.
- Try rock climbing, rollerblading or pickleball.
- Golf — take the cart or walk for a bigger benefit.
- Play outside with your children or grandchildren.
Additional benefits to outdoor physical activity include:
- Uneven terrain engages different muscle groups and coordination that are important for balance.
- Being out in the sun boosts vitamin D levels necessary for overall well-being and strong bones and muscles.
- Outdoor activities provide exposure to fresh air, sunlight and interesting things to view.
Things to consider before you head out:
- Check the temperature.
- Choose an appropriate outfit.
- Protect yourself from wind and sun.
- Wear proper shoes.
- Choose your location.
- Choose a time of day.
- Take your water.
- Be on the alert.
- Don’t skip the warmup and stretch.
- Don’t skip the cooldown and flexibility.
Also, don’t forget to take time to just be present and completely enjoy the beauty of being outdoors. Research for this blog was gathered from Michigan State University, Frontiers in Psychology and the American Psychological Association. Learn more about the benefits of green exercises in this Blue Cross Virtual Well-BeingSM webinar. You can also sign up for future employer-focused and general interest webinars here, where you’ll find past sessions and resources. Related:
- Talking to Strangers Can Improve Your Well-Being
- Cultivating Relaxation in Daily Life
- Nutrition Challenge: Eat Three Vegetables a Day for 21 Days
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