Get fit and stimulate your mind at the same time – why exercising outdoors is so good for you
If you’ve ever been for a long country walk you’ll know how satisfied you feel when you get home. That’s because exercising outdoors can have huge benefits both physically and mentally.
Sadly though, most Brits don’t get nearly as much time outside as they’d like. A recent survey by environmental group LEAF revealed we spend 142 hours every week indoors – that’s 53 years of the average lifespan!
‘Getting outside to exercise has so many benefits,’ explains Tring-based personal trainer Adele Lambert.
‘It gives your body a much more thorough workout. Different terrains and inclines challenge your body and help work your core, while you’re also more mentally stimulated as you have to be more aware of your surroundings. You may also have to work hard against wind resistance, rain, or extreme cold or heat’, says Adele.
Use a variety of equipment to vary your workout even more. ‘Try tricep dips or step-ups on a bench, push-ups against a lamppost, or pull-ups using a strong tree branch,’ suggests Adele.
Being out in the fresh air among nature can also have enormous benefits on our emotional wellbeing, as it releases endorphins (the feel good hormones), which can reduce anxiety and stress.
We’re lucky to be surrounded by beautiful and easily-accessible countryside, so here are some ideas to help you make the most of it.
There are so many amazing walking routes round here; we feature a new walking route every issue so visit the website to find those, or buy a walking map and plot out a route. Walking is a great, low-impact way of getting fit outside.
If you prefer to walk with others, you could join one of these groups…
Tring Rambling Club
Meet every Sunday at 11am for a 6-7 mile route, or 1pm for a 4-5 mile route. For more details contact club secretary June Courtney at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dacorum Health Walks
Free, local-led walks run by volunteers with different starting points each week; walks are graded for difficulty. For more information go to www.walkingforhealth.org.uk, email email@example.com, or call 01992 588433.
For something a bit more energetic, try Nordic Walking. It burns 20-40% more calories than normal walking and is a great overall workout. Hilary Worrell runs www.nordicwalkingandpilates.com and runs walks every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, while Karen Lem runs www.ridgewaynordicwalking.co.uk which offers similar walks.
Take yourself off for a run through some of the stunning countryside, or join a local running group or weekly park run.
Tring has a weekly Park Run around Tring Park every Saturday at 9am. The 5k route is timed and marshalled, but there’s no speed pressure.
Hospice Running Club
Meeting at various locations in and around Berkhamsted, Tring and Ashridge every Wednesday morning at 9.30am. £3 suggested donation with proceeds to the Hospice of St Francis. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dacorum and Tring AC Road Runners
Suitable for all abilities, they meet at Jarman Park Athletics track every Tuesday and Thursday at 6.30pm for trail, road and track running. Age 16+ with the chance to compete in Division 1 of the Chiltern Cross Country League. £40 a year for adults, £30 for children. www.dacorumandtringac.org.uk.
Tring Running Club
A small, friendly club that runs every Wednesday from 7.30pm at Tring Park Cricket Club. Levels start from Bridging Group, for those who can run a little, all the way up to a very fast group with a six-minute-mile pace. www.tringrunningclub.org.uk.
Cycling is a great way to get fit. If you don’t fancy going out alone, join one of these organised groups.
Velo Club Tring
An informal group of enthusiastic road cyclists who meet every Sunday at 7.30am at Tring Library. More information at www.facebook.com/tringveloclub.
A weekly organised ride, starting at the Rose & Crown in Ivinghoe. Saturday at 10am is usually a 10-15 miler, Sunday at 10am is a longer 26-miler. www.ivinghoevelos.org.uk.
Aston Hill Bike Park
If you’re more of a mountain biker, Aston Hill Bike Park is a great downhill mountain bike centre with five graded downhill runs, a two-part cross country loop and a pump track. Sessions cost £7. astonhillbikepark.co.uk.
Bucks Mountain Biking
It’s called Bucks but it covers Herts too and rides are in the Chilterns. They arrange regular group mountain bike rides, and membership costs £10 for adults and £5 for children annually. www.bucksmtb.co.uk.
Bootcamps are becoming more popular and are a great way to get active, work hard and enjoy the fresh air.
A bootcamp held at the Cricket Club grounds in Tring six days a week: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday at 9.30am-10.30am; Tuesday and Thursday at 8pm; and Wednesday at 6am-7am. Introductory offer £10 for two weeks. www.bootcamptring.com.
Jilly B Fitness
Personal trainer Jilly B offers bootcamps or ‘group personal training’. Sessions are held Tuesdays at 9.15am, Wednesdays at 7.30pm and Saturdays at 9am, on Lagley Meadow by Berkhamsted sports centre. £8 per session or £35 a month for two sessions a week. www.jillybfitness.com.
For details of many more local walk ideas click here.