While the pandemic has been overwhelmingly a time of tragedy and uncertainty, it has also allowed us to spin some challenges into positives. More people now get to enjoy working from home. We’re spending more time with family and using social media purposefully to connect with people we care about instead of being bombarded by influencers and marketers.
However, for many people, the age of lockdowns, social distancing, and travel restrictions has also been the perfect opportunity to build better health habits. We have more spare time, which allows us to prepare healthier home-cooked meals. Storage rooms have been cleared out and converted into home gyms.
Yet one thing that’s been missing in this increased drive for home-based fitness is nature’s positive influence. Studies have shown a strong synergy between nature and exercise. It has the potential to counteract non-communicable diseases, such as obesity and mental health disorders.
Outdoor options at home
Typically, people who were committed to a more active lifestyle could combine nature and exercise quite easily. They could head to a local park, for instance, or take a walk around the neighborhood.
The pandemic has changed that for most of us. While the CDC and other health experts note that outdoor spaces are safer than indoors, the risk of transmission for Covid-19 is still non-zero. As long as you share a space with others, there’s a chance that you could be infected, whether through airborne means or surface contact.
Some people might have the option to head to more isolated outdoor areas. But few will get to do so regularly. If you have to spend another hour or so on the road, it limits the number of times you get to exercise overall and can reduce motivation.
Fortunately, more people can make a difference by putting outdoor areas of their homes to better use. And this doesn’t have to involve expensive upgrades, such as installing a swimming pool or basketball court in your backyard. You can make minimal changes and adapt your workout instead for effective results.
Work with variety and intensity
Anyone who’s just starting to exercise at home after being accustomed to a mostly sedentary lifestyle will be glad to know that any activity counts. And you can tie that into things you’re already doing to start rounding into shape.
Doing housework is an excellent opportunity to lift weights. A hobby such as gardening keeps you active and outdoors at the same time. And if you’re busy during the day, installing garden uplights will let you enjoy working out in the cool evenings.
But at some point, you’ll want to combine moderate activity with occasional vigorous or intense workouts. Our bodies acclimate to changes in our routines. Doing the same things each day will lead to diminishing returns, and it also tends to get boring after some time.
Outdoor spaces can offer you a perfect means for incorporating greater variety and intensity into your routines. A simple uphill slope on your driveway, for instance, makes a short sprint more challenging. Getting a partner to play ball or frisbee with you in the yard provides many opportunities to diversify movements and have fun.
Using natural movements
The use of your property’s outdoor spaces can be maximized with a workout that incorporates natural body movements.
Your body evolved to be capable of a wide variety of movements. Sedentary lifestyles have narrowed those down to walking, sitting, standing up, and occasionally bending down and carrying objects.
Any form of exercise is bound to improve your health by expanding on that limited range of mobility. But fitness centers use a lot of equipment that tends to work on muscles in isolation. Home-based workouts often mimic those principles because they’re what we’re familiar with, and we tend to buy the same gear.
It’s the exercise equivalent of eating only processed food or dietary supplements. In contrast, natural movements are more akin to a whole-food diet. They hit muscles you never get to use in daily activities or gym exercises and can be a lot more fun to boot.
The grass on your lawn is a naturally soft, springy surface where you can practice tumbling or doing push-ups without exerting excessive force on your body’s point of contact. Tree branches give you a much more challenging grip than a pull-up bar. Likewise, curling or doing an overhead press with rocks around the yard will boost your hand strength better than the same exercise done with a barbell.
In this way, taking exercise to the next level can be a simple matter of using your home’s outdoor areas more effectively.