Making this small tweak to your exercise regime could have a dramatic impact on your mental health

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

From Red Online

Exercise of any form is good for us. Whether you love swimming, are partial to a cardio session or enjoy a yoga sequence to start or end your day. However new research might show that taking your workout outside could have an even bigger positive impact on your mental health than hitting the gym.

The study, conducted by Lindahls revealed that 50% of UK adults spend less than an hour outside each day and 70% would like to spend more time outside.

Plus, we already know that spending time amongst nature is one of the best things we can do to help ourselves feel grounded and improve our happiness. In fact, when I was first diagnosed with anxiety six years ago, one of the main things my GP stressed to me was that I should spend more time outside.

The research also showed that 60% of us state our ideal place to exercise as the great outdoors – which isn’t surprising when you take into consideration that 82% of those surveyed don’t like going to the gym.

So it's a win, win, really. We can scrap the pricey gym membership, get some more fresh air in our lungs and improve our mental health all in one go.

We know this is easy to say in the summer when the sun is shining, birds are chirping and flowers out in full force, so here are some tips for exercising outside all year round:

Do a proper warmup

It's easy to remember to do a warmup when you're in a gym class or with a trainer but lots of us skip this essential first step when going for a run or a walk. Make sure to properly warm up inside for a few minutes and then again outside to get used to the change of conditions. Take time to stretch and get into the right headspace, and then repeat again at the end.

Breathe right

If you’ve gotten your heart rate up when the temperatures start to drop to the freezing point, you know it feels different from when you’re working out in warmer temperatures. Sometimes it can even hurt to breathe when the air is cold, similarly it can feel like your breath sticks when it's particularly humid, too.

Breathing in through your nose can help warm and humidify air, but that’s not always feasible when you’re exerting yourself and breathing heavily. Wrapping a scarf around your mouth (or another thin fabric layer) can help trap water vapour in when you breathe out to keep air more moist as you continue to breathe.

Layer up

You can always take layers off but you can't add them on as you go when you're outdoors and if you're changing pace, or exercise, your body temperature can drop. As you cool down your clothes can start to feel wet and this will in turn start to feel uncomfortable, sending you running back for the safety of the shower.

It can also lead to dehydration and all sorts of skin conditions if you cool down too much but are wearing clothes you've been sweating heavily in.

So, layer up and then be mindful of stripping off as and when you need.

A sweat-absorbing workout wardrobe is also advisable - lululemon, for example, lines it's workout wear with silver. Silver stops the bacteria that causes smells from reproducing—permanently. It also absorbs the sweat, drawing it away from your body, so that you don't end up in wet clothing at the end of your exercise.

If you're in search of more tips for running in the heat, check out our handy guide here.

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