Two of the best ways to improve your physical and mental health are spending more time in nature and getting physical exercise. So why not do both at the same time?
With the right activities, you can explore nature in some new and exciting ways, getting in touch with your inner explorer and benefitting from your natural immersion. At the same time, you can get your heart rate up, work out your muscles, and improve your overall fitness.
How to Explore Nature and Exercise Simultaneously
These are some of the best nature-dependent activities you can use for exercise:
1. Paddle boarding. Paddle boarding doesn’t require a lot of existing strength, stamina, or skill – but it will require your focus and give you a thorough workout. You’ll be forced to balance your body and engage your arms as you propel yourself through the water, enjoying the scenery along the way. Plus, paddle boards are relatively inexpensive, so there aren’t any major barriers to entry for enjoying this activity.
2. Kayaking. Kayaking is similar to paddle boarding in the sense that you’ll be using your arms to move yourself through the water. The difference is that in a kayak, you’ll be using a double-bladed paddle, sitting in a low seat (rather than standing). Experienced kayakers like to tackle fast-moving rapids and rough waters, but you can start out somewhere calmer.
3. Swimming. Proponents of swimming declare it to be the best cardiovascular exercise because it requires you to use muscles throughout your entire body – and because it’s much easier on the joints than, say, running. You also have the option of practicing several different strokes. Either way, you’ll become intimately familiar with your local body of water.
4. Trail running. If you like the idea of exploring the woods and getting away from the noise of the city or the constraints of your local neighborhood, try trail running. You can have a stimulating adventure in the forest with a group or all by yourself – and get a great cardio workout at the same time.
5. Cycling. If running is hard on your joints, or if you want a smoother, faster experience, you could try cycling. If there’s a cycling trail in the parks near your city, you can take in the sights of all the natural scenery while feeling the cool wind on your face. It’s an exciting experience that’s hard to replicate – just remember to bring a spare tube in case you end up with a flat.
6. Hiking. Sometimes the simpler activities are better. They give you more time to truly enjoy the scenery, and because you don’t have to focus as heavily, you can relax a little more. Hiking can range from very easy to very difficult, depending on the terrain and the type of equipment you’re bringing. But no matter what, you’ll probably enjoy your experience.
7. Rock climbing. Rock climbing has seen a surge in popularity lately, even getting included in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games for the first time in Olympic history. It’s a demanding sport, requiring you to muster all your upper body strength and find delicate points of contact to grip. But once you have some more experience and familiarity, you’ll find it to be a much more rewarding activity.
8. Beach volleyball. If you have a competitive streak, you might be more interested in sports and games than isolated exercise activities. That’s where beach volleyball shines. You can play one on one, in pairs, or in groups of people; in any case, you’ll be running, concentrating on the ball, and enjoying the local waters. Plus, the soft sand makes the sport easy on your joints – and if you happen to fall, it won’t be a big deal.
9. Circuit training. Depending on where you live, you may have access to a circuit training path; here, you can walk or run around a dedicated trail loop and take advantage of fixtures like pullup bars and balance beams to exercise your body in novel ways. If you don’t have access to a circuit training loop, you can make one of your own, doing pullups on strong branches, balancing on rocks, and so on.
10. Foraging. Though not as physically demanding as some of the other activities on this list, foraging is both rewarding and stimulating. Go look for edible mushrooms, berries, or leafy plants in your area – but be sure to verify their edibility with an expert before you attempt to eat them.
Exploring New Horizons
These are just some of the activities that can get your body moving while you enjoy everything that your local environment has to offer. Keep pushing the limits of your comfort zone and experimenting with new activities; you’ll experience more novelty in doing so, and you’ll get to work out in new and stimulating ways.