Spring Weather Brings More Options for Exercise

Spring Weather Brings More Options for Exercise

Spring Weather Brings More Options for Exercise

Lee esto en EspañolWhen spring is in the air, thoughts turn to getting outdoors — and getting a bit of exercise in the fresh air. But if your enthusiasm takes a dive when you think about running or other traditional workouts, get creative. Finding an activity that seems like fun to you may mean you do it more often and stick with it longer.

Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). leaving site icon Everyone can benefit from physical activity, no matter your age or abilities. We all know that regular exercise strengthens your bones and muscles, helps with keeping a healthy weight, and can reduce your risk for many diseases.

But do you know that regular physical activity can also lower your anxiety, improve your thinking and learning skills, help you sleep better, and boost your mood?

And doing physical activity outdoors can increase all of those benefits even more. There are many options for outdoor activities that can help you improve your physical and mental health. You can choose activities that can be done at home, or you can get out and about.

You may already know what activities you like. If so, do them more often to add more activity to your routine. If not, it’s a great opportunity to try something new.

Into the Garden

Working in a garden can help build up physical and mental strength. Gardening and yardwork are good low-impact outdoor activities. And gardening can improve your mental health and focusleaving site icon 

No gardening experience? No problem. It’s well-suited for people of any age and all levels of experience. Whether you’re an experienced gardener or just starting out, gardening and yardwork can:

  • Provide cardiovascular benefits.
  • Promote strengthening and flexibility.
  • Reduce stress and lower cortisol levels.
  • Increase your ability to focus on a task.
  • Boost your mood and self-esteem.

And gardening doesn’t have to be a solitary activity. You can garden with friends or family or try participating in a community garden.

Gardening also encourages people to get outside and get some vitamin D, which many people lack. Be sure to wear sun protection and drink extra water. And remember to wear the right clothing for your tasks, too. That might be gloves to protect your skin, a wide-brimmed sun hat or supportive shoes with a gripping sole.

Not into Gardening?

If gardening isn’t your thing, there are many more options. Look for new ideas that may help you get motivated. Harvard Medical School leaving site icon offers these tips for getting started.

Make it yours. You don’t have to head to the gym or go jogging. Think about what you like to do. That could be going for a swim, playing soccer or a walk with friends.

Start small. Plan to add a few minutes a day and build up. Make a small goal, like sitting less and moving more. You might get started by doing stretches and light exercises on the porch or lawn instead of inside.

Remove the barriers. Don’t wait until you have time to plan a new walking route or buy new shoes. You can just get started with what you have.

Be a joiner. Being part of group activities can be fun and make it easier to stay motivated. Ask friends to join you in a walk, swim or bike ride. Or take a class or join a team.

Be sure to talk to your doctor first if you’re just starting to exercise or trying an activity that’s new to you.

Whatever you choose to do, just get started. Getting more physical activity is one of the best things you can do for yourself. And getting it in the great outdoors can help you even more.

Seasonal Allergies Limiting Your Outdoor Time?

If getting outside makes you cough and sneeze, you may have seasonal allergies.

With a little planning, you may be able to limit your allergy misery. The key is knowing what you’re sensitive to. Then you can take steps to avoid your triggers.

  • Check weather reports. Warm and windy days can spell trouble. And keep an eye on pollen and mold counts. Skip an outdoor workout when levels are high.
  • Keep windows shut during allergy season.
  • Watch the time of day. In spring and summer, tree and grass pollen season, levels are high in the evening. In late summer and early fall, during ragweed season, levels are high in the morning.
  • Take a shower when you’re done outdoors. Wash your hair and change clothes.
  • If needed, wear a mask when doing other outdoor activities.
  • Take allergy medicine before outdoor activities.

Above all, listen to your body. If your symptoms are frequent or severe, you may want to talk to your doctor about what can help. And if you’re taking medicine and still have symptoms after exercising outdoors, you may want to just work out inside.

Sources: How Gardening Affects Mental Health, leaving site icon WebMD, 2021; Gardening boosts physical, mental health while staying home, leaving site icon Baylor College of Medicine, 2020; Benefits of Physical Activity, leaving site icon Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2021; Are There Benefits to Spending Time Outdoors?, leaving site icon CDC, 2021; But I don’t feel like exercising…, leaving site icon Harvard Medical School, 2021; Seasonal Allergies, leaving site icon American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology; 6 Ways to Keep Exercising Outside with Allergies, leaving site icon WedMD, 2021