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Is It Better To Do Your Exercise Outdoors?

In the world of health research, exercise is one of the few things that pretty much everyone agrees on.

Regular physical activity improves heart health, reduces your risk of cancer, keeps your bones healthy, improves mental health, and the list goes on.

But does it matter where you do your exercise? Will a gym work-out have the same health benefits as a bootcamp in a local park?

The bottom line is any exercise is better than no exercise, doctor and researcher Sandro Demaio tells ABC Life. So if exercising indoors works for you, stick with it.

“But there is some interesting evidence that running on a treadmill does not give the same mental health benefits as running outside, and it may not give you the same happy hormone boost as running outside,” Dr Demaio says.

“That makes sense because you’re not just running to improve your heart health and get the blood moving around the body and improve your fitness. You’re also outside seeing things, smelling things and getting fresh air. All those things will have an effect.”

Time in nature can boost mental health

It turns out, simply ‘being’ in a beautiful, natural environment really can benefit your mental health.

Levi Wade is a University of Newcastle PhD student studying the effects of outdoor exercise on mental health and cognition in teenagers.

“There’s a big evidence base on its effect on concentration and stress reduction. Those are the two big effects you’ll find,” Mr Wade says.

Broadly speaking, we can exert two different types of focus: hard and soft. Doing homework, checking over a spreadsheet, or crafting a pithy email all require hard focus.

Being immersed in a beautiful natural environment, on the other hand, can stimulate our soft focus. You might acknowledge the rustling of the leaves, or pay attention to the bird life.

Switching to soft focus allows your hard focus to recover: this is referred to as the restorative effect.

“If you’re walking in a forested environment or just somewhere that’s fascinating and beautiful, then a lot of the mechanism behind that effect on stress and mood is due to that environment taking your mind away from your own problems and whatever stress you are experiencing,” Mr Wade says.

“It’s just relaxing your mind because you’re not focusing on those thoughts.”

Much of the research around these benefits of outdoor exercise has been conducted on walking — specifically, walking in forested environments in Japan. It’s a popular activity there (not surprising given that 65 per cent of the country is covered in forest) and it’s termed shinrin-yoku, or “forest-bathing”.

One of the world’s leading shinrin-yoku researchers is Professor Yoshifumi Miyazaki, who has been conducting research on the physiological relaxation effects of nature since the early 1990s.

“The most important thing is to make use of nature that you like,” he says.

“During our research, we found that even small elements of nature that you personally like, like plant aromas, flower arrangements, potted plants, or bonsai can have a physiological relaxation effect.”

Of course, sitting next to a potted plant for halfa won’t have the same effect on your health (physical or mental) as a 5k run. But if you’re feeling overworked, then taking some time away from the city is likely to make you feel better.

Then there’s vitamin D boost

Exercising outdoors is also a great way to get your vitamin D, which you need for healthy bones, muscles and other vital body functions.

If you have fair skin you need roughly around 5–15 minutes of sun exposure a day, but this can vary depending on the time of year, and where in Australia you are.

For those with darker skin, or who have to cover their skin for religious or cultural beliefs, it can actually be tricky to get enough vitamin D through sunlight alone. So talk to your GP about your options and whether you need supplementation.

But the sun can also be the very thing that puts many of us off exercising outdoors.

So don’t forget to slip, slop, slap and slide if you’re going to be exercising at times when your chances of UV exposure are high.

The best exercise is the type you do

As simple as it sounds, when it comes to choosing the best kind of exercise for you, the most important thing is to find something you actually like doing.

If you love going for a walk or run outdoors, then go for it.

“If you enjoy it you are so much more likely to stick to it and that is the most important thing,” explains Mr Wade.

But if you’ve already got your gym routine down pat, and the idea of venturing to your local beach is extremely off-putting, then it’s probably not worth forcing yourself into a change of habit.

This is general information only. For detailed personal advice, you should see a qualified medical practitioner who knows your medical history.

ABC LifeBy Dr Chloe Warren

Source: Is it better to do your exercise outdoors? – ABC Life

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5-Minute Tools to Clear Your Mind

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In the hustle and bustle of today’s world, it is far too easy to get lost in your own mind, weighed down by the pile of thoughts about work, relationships, technology, and your social life. When there are a million different things that are all begging for your attention, it is easy to forget to take a moment for yourself and clear your head. Doing this can be hard, though. Sometimes, it feels like we need an entire day to fully recharge our batteries. While this might be the case, there are some ways to quickly bring your mind to a state of relaxation and help you get focused. Here are some 5-minute tools to clear your mind…

5-Minute Tools to Clear Your Mind

Mindfulness Meditation

Meditation is more of a skill than an activity, especially if you are trying to do it in a quick 5-minute period. However, learning to quickly put your mind in a state of meditation can help calm your nerves and focus your mind. Of all types of meditation, , as it helps bring your mind inward and helps you focus on your body and mind in a hyper-attentive way.

5-Minute Tools to Clear Your Mind

Step Outside for a Moment

If you’re ever feeling stressed or anxious, it’s worth it to take a step outside. Studies have shown that simply being outdoors , including reduce stress, reduce the effects of depression, and improve mental capacity. When things are getting busy and hectic in the office, taking a quick moment for yourself outside can help you calm yourself and put your mind in a clear and productive space. Obviously, it would be ideal to be in a greener, more natural area, but even just the fresh air can do wonders for your mind.

5-Minute Tools to Clear Your Mind

Stretch

If you are feeling tense and anxious, it’s important to remember that your physical well-being is probably feeding directly into your mental well-being. Because of this, when things get really stressful in life, remember to take a few minutes during the day to stretch your muscles and limbs. This helps relieve tension throughout your body, and can help prevent your muscles from tightening up, due to anxiety. A nice stretch will leave your mind feeling more refreshed and ready to take on the other tasks throughout the day.

5-Minute Tools to Clear Your Mind

Do Something Active

If you’ve been working on mental tasks all day, then your body is probably restless and your mind is getting worn down. To help achieve some balance, and to give your body a boost of endorphins that help you wake up and get focused, take some time to do something active. Go on a quick little run, play a game, or even just take a brief walk. Just make sure that it’s something active that gets you up on your feet.

5-Minute Tools to Clear Your Mind

Breathing Exercises

If you’re feeling incredibly anxious and stressed, then take a moment to do some simple breathing exercises. The simplest way to do this is to simply take deep breaths inwards and outwards, and to count the time in between each breath, all while focusing on a focal point in the distance. However, there are a wide variety of breathing exercises that you can look up to determine what works best for you.

10 Relaxation and Meditation Tips for the Busy Mom  

Have a Dedicated Space

Whether at work or at home, it’s nice to have an area that is specifically geared towards helping your mind think clearly. This can be a variety of things, whether it is an area that you walk to, a meditation spot, or even that is set up to cater to your specific needs. This space should be free from distractions, or at least the things that will distract you, and should be designated specifically to either do mental tasks or simply to clear your mind.

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Source: https://www.urbannaturale.com/clear-your-mind-5-minute-tools/

 

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