It’s hard to feel that inspired to get out into the great outdoors for some fresh air and exercise at the moment, isn’t it? It’s cold, it’s dark, it’s wet, and just when we’ve finally laced up our running shoes to make good on those new year’s resolutions, a snow storm hits and we are faced with a choice between trudging through the sludge or heading back to the sofa to binge watch more TV.
But if you’re feeling a little short on inspiration, it’s important to remember that getting outdoors and getting some exercise isn’t just about going for a run or signing up for an aerobics class in the park.
Outdoor sports and activities can also be about reconnecting with nature, and you can either push your endurance levels in beautiful surroundings that pitch you against the elements, or find your inner calm in a world that can be so chaotic, stressful and loud.
This incredible range of different sports, hobbies and goals is why it’s important to take a step back and think outside the box. For those of us who grew up with sports as an enforced activity or thinking that it was something that we did because we felt like we probably should, then it’s time to open our eyes to the incredible range of possibilities. Let’s get started…
Cross Country Skiing
OK, so with travel restrictions being what they are right now, this one is admittedly perhaps a bit of a stretch for a lot of you at the moment, but when the seasons change and we start being able to go a little further afield, then you should definitely think about giving those legs and lungs a work out with cross country skiing!
If you love the idea of getting out into the snow and seeing the frozen great outdoors but find the concept of plummeting down a steep slope at high speeds a little daunting, then cross country skiing is the best of both worlds. In fact, it’s often a bit more of a work out than its downhill cousin, as it involves your arms a lot more and includes plenty of uphill trekking too.
However, it’s not just about getting your heart rate pounding. This is a sport that offers you the ability to take things at your own pace. You set the tempo, you go as fast or as slow as you want, and it’s both a great group activity and a fantastic solo adventure.
Saddle Up For Some Horseback Riding
Horse riding has never been the sole preserve of show-jumpers or sleepy tourists taking those little pony rides along sandy beaches (not that there’s anything wrong with either of those things!). If you’re wanting to get outdoors and see some more of your local countryside, then horseback riding is one of the most pleasurable and unique ways to do so.
It can be a leisurely stroll or a grand adventure, depending on where you want to go and what your experience levels are. It’s also a one-off activity that can turn into a lasting hobby, as you can build a real relationship with your horse over time. Yes, we should note that a single horseback ride can be a bit of a gateway activity and you may find this new hobby getting pretty serious pretty quickly.
If you want to look into what equestrian equipment you need before you saddle up, visit the Equi Supermarket website where you can find great prices for your helmets, jackets and boots. If you want to get even more involved and think about investing in a horse of your own, they also offer a range of horse tack and horse supplies.
Hit The Rivers and Lakes With A Paddle Board
Here’s one that might seem like a little less of a big jump for people wary of pulse-pounding exercises or long-haul journeys. During the pandemic, finding a quiet patch of nature where we can be quiet and be at peace has been at the front of everyone’s minds.
The parks are full of dog walkers, the recreation grounds are full of joggers, and it has sometimes felt like there’s nowhere to escape to. That is one of the reasons why the open water simply cannot be beaten.
If you can brave the colder temperatures at this time of year, putting on a wetsuit and grabbing your paddle board means you can head out to your nearest river, lake or canal and find your inner peace. Paddle boarding has enjoyed a massive surge in popularity in the UK during the pandemic, allowing people to find a little patch of serenity and get some fresh air into their lungs while staying nice and socially distanced from everybody.
Of course, it’s also a great work out, as you’ll be pushing your legs, core and arms to as high a level as you feel comfortable with. And if you fall in, hey, at least you’ll be getting a swim in too!
Set Out Into The Open Air For A Long Cross-Country Hike
So, you like the idea of braving the hills and valleys but you aren’t quite ready to strap on some skis. Well, maybe it’s time to invest in some proper boots because hiking is a great year-round activity that you can enjoy in any kind of weather.
There is no better way to get out into nature and truly appreciate the beauty that surrounds us than with a long hike through some of the most beautiful landscapes your local area has to offer.
A long drive will never quite give you that true connection to the earth, and while a bike ride is great if you’re all about getting that heart rate up, a day-long nature hike truly gives you the freedom and the peace that is so hard to find in everyday life.
Of course, you are going to need to make sure that you have the proper gear, from the boots that we mentioned to water and weather-appropriate clothing (never skimp on a good quality coat). Be sure to have a route mapped out before you go, however, as you don’t want to find yourself too far from a shelter should the weather suddenly change.