No matter how old you are, no matter whether you are an urbanite or a country person and no matter if you only have an afternoon to spend, the great outdoors offer the perfect setting. Stepping out into nature brings you back to your humble human self, removing the stressful distractions of the city and finally allowing you to take in the sights and sounds integral to your organic being.
Finding some time to get outside can be difficult in this hectic world we have built but there are ways to evade the lure of the screen and do something different. All you have to do is figure out which outdoor pursuit is for you.
Not sure what might suit you? Here are a few ideas you might like to try.
For some, golf is a walk ruined but for others, trying to hit a ridiculously small ball into a ridiculously small hole you can’t even see from the tee is the perfect afternoon out. Golf is often popular with older people as it is a way to exercise while making new friends and breathing in some fresh air. As golf is a social sport, it is also favored by business execs looking to entertain clients and enjoy some down time.
If you aren’t so steady on your feet or you don’t fancy lugging your clubs with you, golf carts are easy to find and are a lot of fun to drive around in too! Golf carts are particularly useful on larger courses where you may have to walk quite a way to get to the next tee.
If the idea of golf isn’t for you then perhaps just the walk would do? Walking in a group is a really healthy social pursuit as well as a nice way to keep fit. For older people or those just beginning to build their fitness, walking is a good way to get moving without stressing your body. You don’t need to push too hard and if you need some extra support, try taking some hiking sticks with you to support your upper body and give you better balance.
Walking outside is particularly good for you as nature has been proven to provide stress relief, improve memory and even reduce pain. The more frequently you can get out for a walk, the more you will benefit and you don’t even have push against your limits to make the most of your time. As your fitness improves, you’ll find that you naturally walk a little faster and choose longer routes.
Forest bathing is a relatively new idea in the west but has been popular for a long time in Japan. Japanese culture has a strong connection with the outdoors and Japan is one of the few countries that hasn’t decimated it’s forests in favor of farming for this very reason. Forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku as it is known in Japan, is simply the act of walking into the woods and sitting or lying within the trees.
While it might sound a bit bananas, forest bathing actually has a lot of health benefits including reducing stress, improving general wellbeing and may even help to boost the immune system. Even better, you don’t need to go to the back of beyond to find trees. Many cities include green spaces and even within the chaos of New York, there’s a chance to get back to nature. Central Park is a lovely spot to relax in and there are lots of different tree varieties to find.
Taking things up a gear, camping is a brilliant way to spend time with the family away from the temptations of screens. Teaching kids to love camping isn’t just about enjoying a relatively cheap holiday, it’s also about teaching them to be independent and make their own entertainment. Learning how to build a fire and make s’mores is surely something every child should learn at some point!
While you might want to build up to the idea of wild camping, sleeping under the stars in a remote area is a truly magical experience. If you are feeling stressed by the crowded city and anxious about the number of people around you, finding yourself completely disconnected is an incredible balm.
Combining walking and camping with a steeper incline and a few more technical elements, hiking is a fantastic way to spend a weekend outdoors. There are lots of popular hiking trails in the USA, including the increasingly popular PCT. However, there are all sorts of routes around the world you can choose from. The key is to ask for advice from people who have done routes before so that you know what to expect. Always start with a route you are confident you can do easily and then build up to more challenging trails.
While anyone can go walking, it’s wise to train for a hike if you haven’t been before and you’ve never had to walk while carrying a pack. You should also try doing day hikes before you spend a whole weekend or week on the go as this will give you a chance to ease into the sport. Many trails, like the PCT, have easier day routes you can try and plenty of places to stay if you don’t fancy camping just yet.
No matter how outdoorsy you think you are – or aren’t! – getting outside is one of the best ways to look after your health and wellbeing. Our bodies are perfectly adapted for being outside and while the city is exciting, taking some respite is essential for you to relax. An afternoon wandering through the trees or a full week scaling a mountain are both worthy pursuits; as you become more attuned to nature, you will find yourself becoming more adventurous.
The great outdoors is there to be enjoyed and relished so take this opportunity to put your coat and boots on and get out into the world. The city will still be there when you get back…