THE GREAT OUTDOORS
AN APPLE A DAY MIGHT KEEP THE DOCTOR AWAY BUT NOW RESEARCH IS SHOWING THAT FRESH AIR AND SUNSHINE ARE WHAT THE DOCTOR SHOULD BE ORDERING. AND WE KNOW A LITTLE CITY THAT’S BRIMMING WITH THE GOLDEN STUFF!
Sunshine, warm weather and good vibes are what generally attract people to our vibrant corner of Queensland. And there are so many additional benefits for spending time outdoors that relate both to mental wellbeing and physical health. The Gold Coast could not be a more perfect destination for you to soak up the natural wellness on offer courtesy of Mother Nature.
Vitamin D is primarily known for its role in bone health. It helps with the absorption of calcium and phosphate, reduces calcium loss from bones and is needed for bone growth. There are suggestions that it also plays an important role in other aspects of human health especially immunity and infection control. Recent research on tuberculosis bacteria has shed light on the critical role vitamin D plays in the function of T-cells, which are white blood cells that fight infection in the body. Vitamin D is also linked with fighting flu and other respiratory infections due to its role in the production of infection-fighting amino acids (antimicrobial peptides).
According to Choice and ABS data, some four million Australians suffer from a vitamin D deficiency. This has been put down to our increasing preference towards indoor recreation. Choice states that the ‘right’ amount of outdoor sun exposure to maintain adequate vitamin D levels is 6-7 minutes of sun with arms and hands exposed outside the hours of 10am-2pm for those moderately fair skinned. However, those with darker skin may need 3-6 times as much sun exposure.
FRESH AIR There are many proven benefits of breathing fresh air. Among them:
• Fresh air helps improve blood pressure and heart rate.
• It increases the flow of oxygen helping you digest food more effectively and elevate the amount of serotonin (the happy hormone) in your system.
• An increase of oxygen helps white blood cells function properly by fighting and killing bacteria and germs.
• Fresh air cleans your lungs, improving lung function.
• Fresh air gives you more energy and a sharper mind, improving your concentration skills.
Phytoncides are airborne chemicals that plants and trees emit for protection from insects and rot. These chemicals also happen to be at the centre of research in regards to stress reduction.
A 2008 study published in the “Journal of Biological Regulators & Homeostatic
Agents” recruited participants to spend time walking forest and city areas for this very reason. According to the research, participants showed more physical signs of relaxation – including lower blood pressure and lower amounts of the stress hormone cortisol – when they spent time in the forest compared to the city. Sounds like the perfect excuse to get out and explore our GC hinterland, doesn’t it?
The “Journal of Environmental Psychology” published a group of studies in 2010 that showed “being outdoors was associated with greater vitality”.
Research participants reported just generally feeling happier, healthier and more alive when they spent time outdoors and in nature.
PEOPLE COME FROM FAR AND WIDE TO VISIT OUR BELOVED GOLD COAST, AND FOR GOOD REASON – WE’VE GOT SUN, SURF AND MILES AND MILES OF PRISTINE SANDY COASTLINE, ALL RIGHT AT OUR FRONT DOOR. AND CONTRARY TO POPULAR BELIEF, THERE IS STILL PLENTY TO DO HERE IN THE WINTER.
If you’re keen to see the GC from a new perspective, have some fun on dry land or simply get that fresh, salty air into your lungs, you might want to give one of our many beachside bike tracks a go.
DARREN SMITH MEMORIAL ROUTE Declared one of the best bike tracks on the Gold Coast, this 48km stretch of pavement is definitely not for the faint of heart. Named after the Olympic cyclist who was tragically killed when he was struck by a vehicle on a training ride, the Darren Smith Memorial Route runs from Paradise Point right down to the Captain Cook Memorial at Point Danger, near Coolangatta, giving you an unrivalled view of the GC coastline along the way. There are plenty of beachside stops along the way, meaning you can break up the ride with a spot of sunbaking or body surfing.
GOLD COAST OCEANWAY
If the monstrous Darren Smith Memorial Route sounds a bit daunting, why not try its baby brother – the Gold Coast Oceanway? Whether you’re a Gold Coast local or have visited the city a handful of times, you’ve probably strolled along the Oceanway without even knowing it. Starting at Point Danger and finishing up at the Gold Coast Seaway at the end of the Southport Spit, the Oceanway tracks 36km of coastline, made up of a series of sections dotted with viewing platforms, public barbecue areas, playgrounds and cafés. Pick a portion of it or attempt the Oceanway in full – just remember to reward yourself with a smoothie or coffee when you’re done.
MAIN BEACH TO THE SPIT
Starting at the Southport Lifesaving Club and tracking north, this route – also known as Federation Walk – will take you right alongside the beach, under the sand pumping jetty and all the way up to the Spit wall, or the Gold Coast Seaway. Comprised of both bike path and an offroad bush track, this route is perfect for families wanting to try something a little different, or anyone wanting some fresh prawns purchased from the fishing trawlers for lunch.
WHETHER YOU’RE A CERTIFIED YOGI OR YOU HAVE TROUBLE TELLING YOUR SHAVASANA FROM YOUR SARVANGASANA, LISTEN UP! HERE'S WHERE YOU CAN BEND, STRETCH AND ‘OM’ ON THE GOLDIE WITHOUT SPENDING A CENT! TRUE! That’s right – we’ve done the legwork so that you can do your own legwork (and more) on a yoga mat at different spots throughout the Gold Coast, every day of the week. Here it is: Your week in yoga, completely free of charge.
Mondays are hard enough without throwing early morning exercise into the mix. That’s why the free yoga class with Madonna from Zen Soul Yoga is perfect – it starts at the incredibly civilised time of 6pm. Long day? Kids driving you crazy? Head straight to Pacific Pines Community Hub in Waijin Park, on Pacific Pines Boulevard in, you guessed it, Pacific Pines, to de-stress and unwind… literally. There’s nothing a bound forward fold can’t fix.
There’s no better way to start the day than with some outdoor yoga, and this class with Essence of Living offers exactly that. The session kicks off at 6am at Len Wort Park in Currumbin – a favourite for weddings, this beachfront space is the best place to be when the sun comes up. And there are plenty of cafes nearby, so that post-yoga coffee is totally justified.
For the late risers, the Robina Australian School of Meditation and Yoga has you covered. Their 9am and 11am classes in the Robina Community Centre are perfect when you need that little bit more time to sleep in. And if you love the class, you can come back on Thursdays, too!
Pacific Pines locals, you’re in luck – Madonna from Zen Soul Yoga on Mondays also hosts another free class on Wednesdays at 6pm, this time at Pacific Pines State High School. Head south to the Country Paradise Parklands in Nerang and you’ll be able to join in on another one of the Australian School of Meditation and Yoga’s free classes. Flexibility is an important part of yoga, after all.
By Thursday, you’re probably ready for another early morning yoga class. Good thing Fitness First Broadbeach hosts a 6.30am session at the beachfront venue of Kurrawa Terrace on Old Burleigh Road, Broadbeach. These classes are on from January to June and September to December, and aren’t just for Fitness First members.
A little later in the morning, the Australian School of Meditation and Yoga host another session, this time starting at 9.15am at the Southport Community Centre on Lawson Street in Southport. Plus, don’t forget about ASMY’S other 9am and 11am classes in the Robina Community Centre – so many options!
FRIDAY After a chaotic week, there’s nothing quite like a bit of yoga to get you feeling weekend-ready. Thankfully, Essence of Living host a free yoga session at 10.15am on a Friday, so head down to the Carrara Community Centre on Nielsens Road to squeeze in one more class for the week!
Unless it’s a ‘hike’ to the nearest brunch spot, we’re normally firmly against exercise on the weekend. But when there are a few free yoga classes to check out around town, a Saturday morning workout seems almost appealing, right? Early-risers can get their fix at 6.30am with Quicksilver Boardriders, at Queen Elizabeth Park in Coolangatta.
Further north in Jacobs Well, you can score a free yoga class with Alison Pryce from Enhance Your Life PT. Running out of Harrigan’s in the Calypso Bay Marine Village at 9am, this is your last chance to get some free yoga in for the week – don’t miss out!