As we slide into another summer weekend, staying active with outdoor pursuits can help promote not only good physical health but also calm the mind. Whether you enjoy gardening, cycling, hiking, or yoga, researchers suggest mixing things up a bit to stay motivated and get enough physical activity each week.
Although it is recommended that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate activity each week, counting steps and walking for 20 minutes each day can be less than exciting. A newer study out of New York University’s Rory Myers College of Nursing found that people have more success in meeting their exercise goals when they participate in a variety of activities. As recently reported in The Washington Post, focusing on participating in at least three different activities each month can help adults become more active.
If you already walk regularly, try adding a game of tennis, cycling, or swimming to your monthly routine. Or add yoga and strength training to your treadmill workout. The great news is that although we may still be unable to go to the gym, while the weather is fair, there are plenty of outdoor activities that can help adults maintain physical function and promote overall wellbeing. On a rainy day, an online dance class can help break up the inevitable Netflix binge.
Adding some kind of strength training to cardiovascular exercise has been demonstrated to not only help older adults maintain muscle mass and bone density, but the combination is also more likely to prevent weight gain. A variety of exercises will strengthen different muscle groups and help to prevent injury from overuse.
An activity that requires a partner is also a good way to stay socially engaged when so much of our time is spent at home, alone, or with family. Outdoor sports like pickleball, badminton or basketball provides not only exercise and fun but can serve as an opportunity for companionship.
This weekend, why not try something new or an activity you haven’t done in years? It may take time to perfect, but there’s no better time to fill up your bike tires, dust off the old racket, or pick up the hiking poles you bought last winter. Keep things interesting with a little variety and remember that the magic happens outside of your comfort zone.