Many of us take our health for granted. We feel fine, we eat healthily enough, do the odd bit of exercise, it’s all good. But as we get older and our health slowly starts to deteriorate and our bodies get frailer, it can knock our confidence and result in our fitness levels going down too. And as our fitness levels decrease, it can cause weight gain, thus making exercise seem even more daunting and that’s when other recurring health issues start to flair up and become a problem. However, regardless of whether you have a disability, a weight problem, or an ongoing illness or injury, there is always some form of exercise that can be undertaken and it is particularly beneficial if that exercise is done outside.
Exercising outside has been proven to boost our endorphins, therefore providing a positive workout for our mental health on top of our physical health. Pushing yourself to stay active and continuing to try new activities in the great outdoors is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and a positive attitude. We take a look at some of the activities you can enjoy doing outside no matter what your current health situation.
Go For A Tricycle Ride
You may be thinking that cycling is no longer a possibility, especially if your balance isn’t quite what it used to be. But what about if you added an extra wheel into the equation. No don’t worry, we’re not asking you to go out and buy a set of stabilisers for your bike. How about trying a tricycle instead?
A tricycle, like those by Jorvik Tricycles, gives the rider much more confidence while allowing them to still enjoy an outdoor pursuit that they love. It offers more stability and is way more comfortable than a standard two wheeler, because of its low centre of gravity and closer proximity to the ground. It does take a bit of getting used to, as you can’t go around corners in the same way you would a bicycle, but once you’ve got the knack there’ll be no stopping you.
The seat can be adjusted on most trikes, as well as the wheels and handlebars so that an optimum ergonomic position can be found to suit the individual user. Some also include features such as electric engines and pedals, although you may have to think of other ways to get some exercise in if you’re not using pedal power!
Go With The Flow And Improve Your Flexibility
Exercising outdoors needn’t be purely a physical thing, because exercising our brains and looking after our mental health is just as important. Have a hunt around and see if there are any yoga or Tai Chi classes that are held in the local parks or forests in your area. Gentle exercise like this offers both a mental workout and a gentle stretch, which improves flexibility, posture and can even help reduce pain.
The beauty of yoga is that it can be done anywhere and by anyone. You can even do it sitting down if you are in a wheelchair or if you are unsteady on your feet. The gentle sweeping movements help to elongate the muscles and improve your range of motion, which keeps the body from locking up and preventing all those recurring aches and pains.
On top of that, it has been proven to help reduce stress and anxiety and instil a positive mindset, which will help encourage and motivate you to continue on in your endeavours.
Give Horse Riding A Go
Horse riding helps improve core strength, posture, co-ordination, balance and we can’t think of anything more stress busting than riding along outdoors, your hair billowing out behind you and the wind rushing past your cheeks. It’s the very epitome of exercise exhilaration isn’t it!
Horses are very in tune with human emotions and equine-assisted therapy, which involves a range of activities with horses and riders, is an incredible tool to promote human physical and mental health.
Many stables offer either private tuition or small communal classes to people with disabilities and many may also have different time slots for different abilities, so that you never need feel out of your comfort zone. They will ensure that you are matched to a suitable horse, one that is used to dealing with nervous or beginner riders.
Join A Team And Get Fit Socially
Team sports are a great way to get you exercising outside as well as enabling you to meet people who enjoy the same things as you. Plus, when there are other people involved you are way more likely to continue turning up for training sessions and matches, because you don’t want to let the team down.
There are lots and lots of clubs scattered around the country that offer disabled team sports and some also have veteran clubs too. Whether you choose from sports such as basketball, football, hockey or even lawn bowls, each sport offers their own benefits and it’s all about trying them out and finding the one you love most.
Mostly, it’s about getting outside and moving, and that can even be as simple as going for a walk with a friend. However, if you’re feeling a little more adventurous then the world is your oyster, because nothing is impossible if you really want to try something. There are companies out there who organise outdoor pursuits, such as climbing, which are geared up to cater for disabled people. Or if you’re feeling super confident and you already have a good level of fitness, why not have a go at some of the outdoor obstacle courses set up in many of the parks and forests up and down the country.
Keeping fit and healthy is the answer to a long and happy life and there is no excuse for not being able to do something, no matter how small that may seem when you first start. Always get advice from your GP first if you’re unsure, and perhaps get a friend involved so that you have some support. It’s gorgeous out there, so get outside and enjoy everything our beautiful world has to offer