Spring Into Fitness

By Coach Paige

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The snow is melting, the cold is abating, it is time to start celebrating by getting outside! After a season of being stuck indoors your body and mind is craving some fresh air, sunlight and green space.

Benefits of Green Spaces

‘Green space’, ‘urban greenery’, and ‘open space all refer to design and landscaping elements that allow neighbourhoods to improvement in recreation and aesthetics – this includes parks, trails, playgrounds, public plazas, public gardens and essentially any public area covered with trees, grass and shrubs.

There has been in recent years much research into the benefits that green spaces can provide including

  • Enhancing health by providing room to move and thus decreasing the rate of obesity and diabetes.  It has even been shown that by simply viewing green space there is a noticeable decrease in blood pressure and anxiety levels

  • Decreases stress and violence by invoking feelings of tranquility and reducing instances of aggression. Green spaces have also been known to help alleviate the stress and symptoms of a variety of mental health illnesses.

  • Improves concentrations, productivity and morale. Workers and students who  engage with green spaces tend to have a better ability to focus and are less likely to feel “burned out” due to the relaxation from mental fatigue which creates an overall happier work environment. Likewise in neighbourhoods with green spaces, neighbours tend to take a sense of pride in the space leading to less littering and greater community relationships.

  • Improvement in children’s cognitive abilities including and increase ability to concentrate, follow directions, complete tasks, problem solve and thing creativity while also alleviating symptoms of ADD/ADHD and inhibiting impulsive behaviour.

“knowing and experiencing nature makes us generally happier, healthier people”

(Humans and Nature: October 2013)

Get out in the Green

The best way to gain these benefits is to get outside, and there are many ways you can do this as a family or on your own.

  • Bring out the bikes: Biking is a great way to improve your fitness and soak up all that fresh air and sunshine. It also gives you a chance to teach your children about road safety and sustainable transportation.

  • Take a Hike: Go for a walk in nature, choose a hiking trail, pack some water, and appropriate clothing and marvel in the beauty of Allah’s (swt) creation.

  • Walk or Run: Do it for fun or do it for a charity event.  This is also a great way to renew your energy in the middle of your workday.

  • Game on: get outside and play, it can be as simple as tag, or a family game of kick the ball or recreational sports such as badminton, Frisbee, volleyball, soccer, softball, or basketball. Many cities have recreational leagues where you can play just for fun, or throw together some friend and family for a fun game.

  • Learn Golf: whether you hit the course or just the driving range golf is a great full body activity outside

  • Work on your Green Thumb: create a garden, not only is it excellent exercise it will allow you to create more green space as well as provide your family with healthy organic fruits and vegetables. Involve the kids to get them moving and teach them about sustainable food habits and healthy lifestyles.

  • Playground Workout: The kids are having fun and getting fit, you can too! Incline push up and tricep dips from the bench, pull ups on the monkey bars, 1 leg lunges with the other leg in the swing. You can get VERY creative with your workout while keeping it challenging and fun!

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  • Outdoor boot camps:  depending on how the weather fairs in your part of the country, outdoor boot camps are beginning. This is a great way to get guidance and an extra push in your fitness goals as well as get social and meet new friends. There is a class for all levels and even classes for mom to do with baby in the stroller!

  • Stack it Up: If you are into intense workouts then this is a great one for outdoor arenas (provided all the ice is gone). You will run up one “stack” of stairs, over to the next set and then run down that “stack” until you have completed a certain time or number of stacks.

  • Picnic time: Go for a picnic with the family, pack a healthy lunch and there you can receive some of the wonderful relaxation benefits from being outside, as well as try picnic games such as horseshoes, bocce ball, or washer toss.

  • Spring Clean your Fitness Routine: If you have been working out using the same routine all winter – first Kuddos to you for sticking to it! Now is the time to switch it up, change your intervals or your weights, try a new class, join a fitness challenge or hire a trainer.

Spring is such a fantastic time especially after a long hard winter. Whatever activity you decide to try – do it with joy and excitement. You deserve to get outside and have some fun.

About the Author:

Coach Paige has been in the fitness industry for a decade, specializing in helping women achieve their health and fitness goals. She offers 1-on-1 training in her private studio, small group boot camps, and online training and nutrition coaching. Her Lifestyle Studio is in Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia. You can also reach her on her Facebook page here.