Collage of activities

Five outdoor activities to improve your health

Who needs a gym membership when you have the outdoors?

Outdoor exercise has a stronger effect on blood pressure and mood than indoor exercise. Stress is relieved within minutes of exposure to nature as measured by muscle tension, blood pressure, and brain activity.

To put it simply, time spent outside is good for you! On World Health Day, let’s take a look at a few fun outdoor activities that can improve your health.

1. Cycling

Couple biking on trail

Cycling has plenty of benefits for both the mind and body.

To start, it’s a great lower body workout that works your quads, hamstrings, and calves. It’ll also help you get your cardio in, and therefore improve your cardiovascular health.

cyclist

Plus it’s non-weight-bearing, which makes it a good option for people dealing with joint pain or injury. Pedalling while maintaining balance and steering also improves your coordination.

A bike ride is great for your mental health too! Cycling can relieve stress and boost mood, plus it’s a great opportunity to bond with your friends and family.

2. Swimming

Children jumping into water

Swimming isn’t just about enjoying Ontario Parks’ beautiful beaches, it’s also a head-to-toe workout!

Swimming is another great low-impact exercise, which means it allows people recovering from injury to stay fit without straining their bodies. The water also provides resistance, which increases muscle strength and tone as you swim. Lastly, swimming stretches your muscles and increases flexibility.

health benefits of swimming

Swimming helps you relax and destress. Floating in the water dulls the sensory information that can overwhelm, creating feelings of calm. The rhythmic movements and breathing can also provide meditative benefits.

Next time you backstroke, butterfly, or front crawl, think about all of the amazing health benefits you’re getting!

3. Hiking

Woman hiking on trail

Hiking can be a peaceful walk in the park, or a heart-pounding workout. Hiking tones your lower body, and upper body if you use poles. It’s great cardio to keep your heart healthy, and boosts bone density as a weight-bearing exercise.

HPHP hiking info

Feeling stuck? Hiking can improve creative thinking and problem solving. As you make your way down the trail, you’ll hear nature sounds like birds and rushing water. These sounds are proven to have a calming effect.

Hit the trails today, and see the health benefits of hiking for yourself!

4. Yoga

Yoga on the beach

Seeking some peace and stability, while enjoying the fresh air? Outdoor yoga could be for you! The combination mind-body workout of yoga pairs perfectly with the all over health benefits of time spent outdoors.

Feel your worries melt away as you breathe in the fresh air, and focus on your wellness. Contact with nature has been found to lower blood pressure, strengthen the immune system, help mitigate disease, and reduce stress levels.

Namaste!

5. Paddling

Woman kayaking in clear water

Lovers of paddling often say the biggest draw is the peace and serenity of being on the water. Research shows that paddling has benefits to our physical and mental health.

Paddling works your upper body, increasing muscle strength in the back, arms, shoulders, and chest. It also works your core strength, and leg strength for kayakers.

Health benefits of paddling

Paddling is low-impact, meaning there’s a smaller risk of injury or stain. It elevates your heart rate, and improves cardiovascular health.

Paddling has mental benefits, too. Being out on the water has a calming effect on the brain, and can help lower stress levels. Regular paddling can also help lower levels of depression and anxiety.

Ready to get outside?

Use our Park Locator to plan your next workout at a park near you.