The Covid-19 pandemic has created a new normal for so many of us. It has turned our home into our office, changed our kids’ classroom, our favourite restaurant, and our gym. Sheltering in place and minimizing social interactions has taken a toll on our mental and physical health.
The National Center for Health Statistics and Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey reported that in the third week of July 2020, 30% of adults had symptoms of depressive disorder, compared with 6.6% last year, and 36% had symptoms of an anxiety disorder, compared with 8.2% last year. As you can see, COVID-19 is going to force us to get outside and get creative in the ways we take care of our mental and physical health.
Exercise is one of the best ways to relieve stress and uplift your mood; however, the places where we used to go to blow off steam, such as our community health club or our favourite fitness class, have become a place of the past, where it’s no longer safe to go. Thankfully, working out outside has more benefits to your health than your routine at the gym. By just being outside, you are: boosting your happiness, reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol, lowering blood pressure, improving immunity, and increasing self-esteem (Oxygen Magazine, 2020).
Changing where and how you exercise plays a crucial role in advancing your health goals, and experts say that that is the best way to see results. Here are a few ways you can switch up your routine:
- Swap the treadmill for the trails.
- Leave your dumbbells at the gym, and find your nearest outdoor gym.
- Hit pause on your playlist so you can be present with the sounds, smells, and sights of your environment.
When your body has to navigate different elevations and terrains, it provides unique challenges to your lower body, as well as you don’t deal with the boredom of running on a continuous belt, for example. Naturopathic doctor Alan Logan even says that your caloric burn will be higher if you take the same indoor workout, outside. This change in routine isn’t only significant for your fitness goals, but it will also increase the likelihood that you stick with it!
Being active in an outdoor environment is a great first step. But did you know that those benefits are enhanced when you unplug your playlist or podcast? When you hop on the outdoor gym at your community park, try putting your phone on airplane mode so that you can tune out the distractions and stresses of your daily life.