If you need extra motivation, or maybe just a valid excuse to spend more time road cycling or mountain biking, science has you covered.
While you might have already noticed that you sleep better and feel more energised with outdoor exercise, health studies now show some encouraging additional side effects to spending time outdoors.
Interestingly the more natural your surrounds and the longer you spend there the greater the benefits are. So if you need an excuse to get out of the city and into nature to ride this spring and summer, it looks like it’s money and time well spent.
There is a big list of health benefits associated with spending time outdoors:
- Improve short-term memory
- De-stress by reducing cortisol levels
- Reduce inflammation
- Boost energy
- Overcome mental fatigue
- Fight depression
- Ease anxiety
- Improved focus (even for people who suffer ADHD)
- Increased creativity and problem solving
- Better decision-making skills
- Lower blood pressure
- Boost your immune system
- Reduce the risk of developing myopia (near-sightedness, especially in children)
May build immunity to cancer
While more study needs to be conducted on this one for solid evidence, there is reason for scientists to estimate that being in natural surroundings (particularly forest areas) may help the body build anti-cancer proteins, which will continue to build up to a week after your return to the city. It’s an exciting area to gather more evidence and if proven, the solution to beating most cancer might be as free and easy and getting away once in a while.
If you are feeling stressed at work, have trouble focusing on tasks or keeping your attention on the job then it sounds like you need a country break on the bike. Head to the hills, travel down the coast, just a few hours drive will place you on some of Australia’s most rewarding and stunning tourist drives.
To get limited results you don’t even have to be on the bike to experience these amazing health boosts, in fact in some cases people had elevated energy and their moods were bolstered just from looking at pictures of nature. Of course, the health benefits of exercise have been known and publicised for decades so it’s no surprise that combining the two healthy activities doubles the benefits as well as your enjoyment.
In the case of overcoming anxiety and depression, the outdoors coupled with exercise has the greatest benefits when it comes to negating a bad mood or settling the nerves. Being trapped in an office environment under fluorescent lights for large parts of the day, or sitting at home watching TV inside, can allow stress, anxiety and depressive states to build. Movement helps your body create positive hormones and flush out negative ones as well as increase oxygen to stimulate the mind and central nervous system. When you combine that movement with some fresh air and natural surrounds you have a winning ticket to a positive state of mind that can be felt even in chronic or long-term conditions.
Combining outdoor exercise with natural environments has also been shown to boost feelings of self-confidence, which allows individuals to further fight back against anxiety and depression and mental illness. Be sure to drink lots of water while you are active outdoors to rehydrate as well as flush those negative toxins from your system.
Make a day of it and combine a ride with a picnic or boost yourself up with a climb and enjoy a coffee with the view up top before your thrilling decent back to base. Go for a ride in the morning and a bush walk in the afternoon and include your friends and family in your get-away to get everyone feeling fresh and alive.
Great health is as easy as getting off the road and onto bike paths through parks and bushland. Make a promise to yourself to get out of the city and into the greenery on a regular basis to see long-term health benefits inside and out.
With all those positives, it’s no wonder it’s addictive!