Get Up, Stand Up

If you’ve been feeling sluggish over the first part of the year, now is the perfect time to get outside and rediscover your fitness, with brighter days and longer, warmer nights combining to create the perfect condition by which you can restore body and mind.

Take a hike

The dawning of summer represents a wonderful time for us to surround ourselves in nature as both plant and animal life are born anew.

If you’re lucky enough to have access to woodlands or fields, hiking is a wonderful way to gently reinstate your fitness with little risk of injury, whilst seeing and exploring new places.

If the terrain feels too much for you, even a brisk walk round your local park offers real benefits to your body so long as you maintain a steady pace.

The science: Hiking is a powerful cardio workout that can lower your risk of heart disease, improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels, boost bone density (since walking is a weight-bearing exercise), strengthen your core and improve balance. It’s also great for weight control.

What’s more, because being in nature is engrained in our DNA, hiking will also boost our mood and sense of awareness, both of ourselves and the world around us.

Jog on

For those with a little more vigour to spare, try starting your day with a gentle jog. There is no personal exercise that tests body and lungs, though sensible repetition will see the challenge seem less on each subsequent time you pull on those trainers.

The science: Jogging or running helps you maintain a healthy body weight, as well as boosting your immune system. It also offers a unique stress relief aspect in the sense of practicing deep breathing that is almost meditation-like.

You’ll also sleep better, live longer, and recent research suggests time spent exercising intensely, such as running, enables the brain to work out problems, making you happier and smarter.

Upcycle

For many, the chance to hop on a bike is surely too good to refuse. Invigorating, life-affirming and, if you do it right, potentially even there to provide you with a sense of exhilaration and speed, cycling is a pursuit that can be fiercely personal or totally sociable.

It’s clear to see why cycling has been the fastest growing leisure pursuit in the UK over the past two decades.

The science: Cycling is brilliant cardiovascular fitness, firing increased muscle strength, flexibility and joint mobility.

It also places the body in a work position it typically won’t experience in any other aspect of life, which helps posture, strengthens bones and decreases body fat.

Finally, the minor risk element of cycling means your concentration levels are up, something that can permeate into other elements of your life.

Just breathe

You don’t have to break out in a sweat to do something really positive for your body, and if all you’re looking for is a little peace and quiet, then meditating in nature is about as healing as it gets. All you need is a park bench or garden, with perhaps some chirping birds to provide the perfect soundtrack!

The science: Slowing down and tapping into deep breathing process counters the sympathetic nervous system.

Your abdomen is soft as you engage your diaphragm and inhale. This serves to fill the lungs, slow heart rate, reduce blood pressure, and relaxes the muscles.

What’s more, those deep breaths trigger the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the body’s rest and digest. This leads to calmness, rationality, and peace of mind.