It’s that time of the year again when our waistlines get a little tighter from the food and festivities of the holiday season. For some, stress levels increase which also can lead to weight gain and other health issues.
A new year is upon us and we make New Year’s resolutions to live healthier lives. Many purchase gym memberships and exercise equipment that goes on sale. But, what if we told you that you getting healthier and happier doesn’t require gym memberships and tons of exercise equipment?
What if we said that you can get healthier and reduce stress by just getting out and enjoying the outdoors?
In addition to getting fresh air and discovering the wonders of nature, outdoor recreation can help obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and mental health issues.
During the past few years, numerous studies and articles have been published connecting health and happiness to outdoor recreation. But did you need a study to tell you that? Haven’t you ever noticed that you felt better after engaging in outdoor activities?
Studies have shown that spending time in a natural setting with trees, plants, or water can: Boost your immune system; Lower your blood pressure; Improve your mood; Reduce stress; Increase your ability to focus; Increase your energy; and Improve your sleep.
In addition, engaging in regular outdoor activity provides a number of physical health benefits as well, including lower blood pressure, reduced arthritis pain, weight loss, and lowered risk of diabetes, certain cancers, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular disease.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that adults perform at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise, such as biking or walking; or 75 minutes of intense activity, such as hiking or cross country skiing every week.
Instead of the same scenery in a gym, try taking your workout outdoors with some of these popular year-round outdoor activities:
-- Walking: A brisk 30 minute walk a day is all it takes to burn calories, tone your muscles, and improve your health. Someone who weighs 150 pounds and walks a normal pace for 60 minutes can burn as much as 250 calories, and more with brisk walking or walking uphill.
-- Biking: Biking burns more calories than walking, is gentle on your joints, and is great for strengthening your leg muscles. The amount of calories you burn biking depends on how much you weigh and how fast you cycle. A 150-lb. person biking at less than 10 mph will burn 270 calories in 60 minutes.
-- Trail Hiking: Hiking is a powerful cardio workout that exercises almost every part of your body. A 160-lb person can burn between 430 and 440 calories per hour of hiking. The more you weigh, the more calories you burn in an hour of hiking. In addition, when you hike at a high intensity for 45 minutes, you’ll burn an additional 190 calories after you are done with hiking later in the day.
Don’t let the winter season prevent you from enjoying the outdoors. For those times when snow is on the ground, try either snowshoeing or cross-country skiing:
-- Snowshoeing: This low-impact activity provides a cardio workout that burns more calories than walking, running, hiking, or biking. Depending on the terrain, speed you are walking, and depth of snow, a 150-pound adult can easily burn 450 calories in an hour.
-- Cross Country Skiing: This low-impact, full-body cardio workout burns more calories than most activities while also building muscle. The average person burns 400 to 500 calories per hour cross country skiing at slow pace. Moderate cross country skiing burns 500-550 calories in an hour.
New Year’s First Day Hikes
Start the New Year with a resolution to improve your health by spending more time outdoors.
Let DCNR help by joining us for one of our free, guided First Day Hike events on January 1 at state parks and forests.
Check out DCNR’s Calendar of Events for a First Day Hike near you. Check back often as first day hikes still are being added.
Don’t get discouraged if there are no First Day Hikes near you, Gather some family and friends and take a first day hike on your own at a local park near you.
With more than 5,800 local parks across the state, you can find a place to recreate outdoors on January 1st and the rest of the year!
For more information, visit DCNR’s website, Click Here to sign up for the Resource newsletter, Click Here to be part of DCNR’s Online Community, Click Here to hook up with DCNR on other social media-- Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.(Reprinted from the December 7 DCNR Resource newsletter. Click Here to sign up for your own copy.)