Sign up to the green gym

The ben­e­fits of ex­er­cis­ing out­doors ex­tend be­yond im­prov­ing your fit­ness

Trail Running (UK) - - Warm- Up -

‘Ex­er­cise in the green gym of the great out­doors is un­equiv­o­cally good for you’

There is a gift that we can all give our­selves – one that will help us live on av­er­age seven years longer, be hap­pier and more pro­duc­tive at work, and help to pre­vent and treat over 40 ma­jor diseases. Think how much you could charge other peo­ple for that kind of cu­ra­tive power… but the best thing about this gift is that it’s free. These are just some of the ben­e­fits of reg­u­lar ex­er­cise – putting one foot in front of the other and run­ning reg­u­larly. As a doc­tor, ex­er­cise is one of the most pow­er­ful treat­ments I can of­fer for a range of health is­sues. Some of its ben­e­fits are listed in the ta­ble be­low:

As amaz­ing as these are, for my­self – when it re­ally comes down to why I ex­er­cise – it’s all about hap­pi­ness. And great just got bet­ter. By get­ting out in na­ture’s gym – the great out­doors – stud­ies have high­lighted ad­di­tional ben­e­fits that ac­com­pany ex­er­cise, with con­nec­tion to na­ture and fresh air be­ing good for your health in their own right.

To me, this is an ex­am­ple of science prov­ing com­mon sense. All the mem­o­ries I can re­call of run­ning are on the trails; on the beach, up moun­tains, hear­ing a branch crack un­der your feet in the woods, or stomp­ing through a pud­dle. I hon­estly can­not re­mem­ber a sin­gle tread­mill ses­sion with any­thing like the sense of in­vig­o­ra­tion I get from run­ning in the out­doors. And science sup­ports this, with in­creased sat­is­fac­tion, self­ef­fi­cacy and con­fi­dence shown for a range of out­door ac­tiv­i­ties when com­pared to ex­er­cis­ing in­doors. So, the ar­gu­ment is com­pelling – ex­er­cise in the green gym of the great out­doors is un­equiv­o­cally good for you. But how do you ex­ploit these nat­u­ral spoils? Here are some tips from our stud­ies at the Scot­tish Run­ning Clinic at the Univer­sity of Ed­in­burgh.

Have a tar­get

The hu­man body works best with a fo­cus and sense of pur­pose. En­ter­ing a race or set­ting your­self a goal – like a new PB – can help you lace up your shoes on a rainy day. I started only be­ing able to run for 30 min­utes, and I strug­gled with it. Ev­ery so of­ten I sim­ply set my­self a new tar­get.

Lace up great shoes

Spend your time tak­ing amaz­ing pic­tures and ad­mir­ing the sights and sounds in the out­doors, not slip­ping around in the mud – or worse, on the physio’s ta­ble! My cur­rent favourites are the Mer­rell All-Out se­ries.

Start slow and build up

Start­ing big may sound and feel great on day one, but be­gin­ning with shorter runs or walks builds con­fi­dence and fit­ness with­out the ac­com­pa­ny­ing in­jury risk. No mat­ter how slowly you’re go­ing, you are lap­ping every­body on the couch.

Wa­ter­proof your phone

I usu­ally fifind some­thing to snap when I’m out, and we live in the UK, so it’s go­ing to rain more of­ten than not. I keep £5 in the cover of my phone, too, to grab some­thing to eat on the way home.

Run with friends

Sug­gest to go for a walk or run rather than – or, more likely, in ad­di­tion to – the pub. You’ll be do­ing your friend a favour, and a bit of com­pany can help with mo­ti­va­tion.

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