Nature calls to us. John Muir said, “The mountains are calling, and I must go.” So many millions have experienced the call of nature. It might be into the mountains, over the plains or through the dunes of a desert.
If you find it challenging to connect with nature or miss some of that unbridled joy and easy connection you used to experience as a child, there are plenty of ways to rekindle the flame. But, arguably, the best way to connect with nature is active.
When your blood is pumping, your brain and body become more oxygenated, and you become more aware. Unfortunately, in today’s age of technology, it is all too easy to sit slumped in front of a computer breathing shallow breaths all day and feeling fuzzy.
Instead, next time you go outside, try one of these nine ways to both exercises and connect with the landscape around you.
How to Use Outdoor Exercise to Connect with Nature
1. Disconnect to Connect
First, ditch the technology. There are many positive things technology has done for us in the modern world. However, there are many more things it can take away if we let it.
Take out the earphones, even if it is just for part of the activity. Stop looking down at the phone or ask the person on the other end of the phone to call you back later. You will find that it makes all the difference.
2. Find Fellow Nature Lovers
We have likely all heard about the positive benefits you can get from having a workout buddy. They help motivate you to keep up the excellent work, and they keep you going harder and faster during the activity.
Finding someone who enjoys the outdoors as much as they enjoy the activity allows you to get the best of both worlds. Not only will they help keep you going, but they will also be interested in finding new hikes, trails and adventures to try. But, of course, nothing is saying you always have to participate in the same activity!
3. Set Distance Goals
Even if you can’t find your perfect workout and nature partner, you can always motivate yourself. No matter what exercise you are doing, set yourself distance goals. It works whether it be a specific mileage or a new park or mountain you want to explore.
4. Go on a Hike
Now that we have gone through the methodology for connecting with nature on your chosen mode of exercise let’s get some ideas on the exercises you can do. Hiking is perhaps one of the most obvious, particularly for people who live in a hilly or mountainous area.
Hiking is a good choice for those people who want to experience nature at a slower pace or who need less of an impact sport.
If you are goal-oriented, you can always take hiking to the next level and go on a backpacking trip. These kinds of extended stays in nature allow you to become even more grounded than a couple of hours outside will.
5. Feel the Waves
Do you live next to the ocean, a river or a lake? Give the water a chance to help you forge a new connection with nature. There are plenty of options on this medium as well. You can try surfing, a sport enjoyed in both the cold and hot parts of the world, so don’t let the temperature limit you.
Not so keen on only having a board against you and the waves? Then start with kayaking or canoeing. You can do these exercises on almost any body of water as well. That way, even if you are many hours from the oceanside, you can still connect with water.
Other options include paddle boarding, windsurfing and white water rafting. You take your pick in your area, and you are bound to find some excellent choices.
6. Embrace the Euro Velo Cycle Network (or Anything Regionally Similar)
The most extensive cycle network available to you for those living in Europe is the Euro Velo Cycle Network. You can cycle through the countryside to different countries throughout Europe. However, even if you don’t live in Europe, you likely have a developed cycle path in your area.
If you are not yet familiar with your local cycle network, the local government’s website is generally the best place to find it.
7. Find Races in Favourite Natural Areas (or Try Somewhere New)
Running might not be for everyone, but you will have all kinds of options if it’s for you. You don’t necessarily need specific walkways or paths to run. You can try trail running, breathing in the fresh air from the forests, plains or mountainside as you go.
Need some motivation to keep you engaging? Try to find races with achievable distances that are in natural places you enjoy. Or try new places that you haven’t heard of before to explore further afield.
Alternatively, you may find a park with a great outdoor fitness equipment set up – this is great for the whole family and can not only strengthen the body and mind, but also personal relationships.
8. Get Dirty; Try Gardening!
Some of you might have stopped on this point and thought, “wait, gardening isn’t exercising!” However, you would be wrong. For those who need low-impact exercise, gardening is an excellent way to spend time outdoors without injuring our bodies. You can also use it as a form of recovery if you have already gotten injured.
Plus, you can literally stop and smell the roses. Talk about a release from stress and anxiety.
9.Adrenaline Junkie? Go Rock Climbing
Our last option is for those who enjoy their heart pumping, but not just because of the exercise. Rock climbing might be a challenge for those that don’t appreciate heights, but it’s also a great form of exercise. In addition, rock climbing is one of those exercises that work some of the “harder to reach” muscles in your body.
Climbing isn’t the only thing you can do to connect with nature in an exciting way. No matter what you want to get out of your moments of connection with nature, there are many ways to enjoy it actively.
Getting active outside allows you to reap the benefits of having an active life and an outdoor one. So what’s stopping you? Strap on those sneakers, snowshoes or swimsuits and get out there!