Explore the week, not just the weekend
Lighter evenings are an ideal time to get your daily dose of vitamin D by pledging to give yourself an hour or so outside after work. We’ve pulled together a list of ideas for you to enjoy the light evenings, and a few reasons why spending more time outside after work might be a good idea.
After a long day at work, we can all come home feeling a little flustered, stressed and agitated. It can be difficult to cut off from your work, and it’s not unusual for your mind to still be running at pace when you’re laying in bed trying to get some sleep.
Now that lighter evenings are here again, we’re advocating for everyone to try and spend some time outdoors to unwind and clear your mind. Your activity of choice is entirely up to you, but time in the fresh air can help you to relax, and may even help you get a better nights sleep. Research has shown that even a few minutes out in the sunshine can boost your Vitamin D levels which in turn can help give your health a boost.
It’s no secret that being outdoors will often go hand in hand with some form of physical activity, and the physical benefits of fitness are obvious. Last year it was announced that 4 in 10 adults were failing to even manage a 10 minute brisk walk a day. As a nation, we’re arguably less active now than we ever have been, and yet alongside that 4 in 5 of us admit to feeling stressed during a typical work week. The outdoors has an ability to reset you, your physical and mental health can improve just by turning off the TV, putting your phone down and stepping out into some greenery.
So why not use these brighter evenings to clear out your mind before bed, and centre yourself again ready for tomorrow. Adventure isn’t just for the weekend, here are some ideas for you to try:
1. On Your Bike
An hour out on the bicycle is different for everyone, and it usually depends on your own fitness, but the one constant is that it is a benefit for everyone. Cycling is a low impact exercise, which means it isn’t as demanding on your joints as running. Cycling will your heart pumping and lungs working, heading out for an hour after work is a great way to build up your confidence to potentially bring cycling into your commuting. According to the NHS if you’re cycling 150 minutes a week, you’re helping to build up your cardiovascular fitness, so cycling an hour a night a few nights a week is ideal.
Plus, if you’re really attached to your phone, why not download the Strava app, test yourself on routes set by other riders, set some personal bests and beat them.
One great thing about cycling is that it’s ideal for your whole family, there are plenty of trails around the UK for you to discover together as a family. We’ve named 15 family friendly cycle trails here.
2. Go for a Walk
Not everyone has the luxury of being able to walk to work, so getting your daily dose of sunshine vitamin can be difficult. Ideally, you’d be stepping away from your work at lunchtime and heading out for a walking lunch, which can help to reduce that afternoon slump. If that’s not possible, then after work can be a good alternative. It doesn’t have to be a sprawling hike through a National Park, but 30 minutes to an hour in your local park or canal path can help you to unwind after a day of stress.
There are always places to go walking in your local area, so it’s worth Googling walks near you and get out exploring. Canal walks are often a good way to get away from the bustling streets to help you relax. It’s also been said that just a 20 minute walk each day can cut your risk of premature death by up to a third. You may as well give it a go, it’s got to be better than scrolling through social media!
Add a little more to your walk by choosing a walking route and turning it into a photo hike. Take your phone or camera with you and snap some photos along the way, the outdoors can lead to added creativity and even if it doesn’t make you more creative, it’ll definitely inspire you.
3. Run Toward a Goal
The very idea of running can seem daunting if you’re not a particularly active person, it conjures up visions of lycra-clad super athletes pacing past you when you’re out walking, but the beauty of running, much like walking – is that it’s largely free outside of your running shoes.
Not only is it a cost-effective exercise, it’s also largely up to you what you want to achieve. You don’t need to run marathons to challenge yourself. Absolute beginners can take advantage of the brilliant ‘Couch to 5K‘ app, which will de exactly what it says over a 9-week plan, giving you easy steps to follow to gradually build up your own fitness.
Once you’ve started hitting the distances you want to hit, start beating the times you want to beat. You’ll be surprised what can be achieved in a simple 30-minute run, and it won’t eat into much of your evening. A great way to clear your head.
4. Climb Out of a Slump
Climbing is a little more physically demanding than some of the options on this list, but can also be one of the most rewarding. If you’re a physically active person, perhaps bored of your local gym – then climbing can be a great way to build endurance and strength. Climbers may look slight, but the physical strength they have developed is not to be scoffed at.
Climbing involves intricate footwork, upper and lower body strength, as well as an ability to problem solve, as you work your way through climbing routes, choosing where next to put your feet and hands. If your idea of relaxing, is to test yourself then climbing can be a wonderful way to forget the troubles of the day.
Practice your climbing at the local indoor climbing wall, and when you’re confident, head out and discover outdoor problems (climbing routes) near where you live.
5. Outdoor Boot Camp
You may have guessed by now, but exercise combined with the outdoors is the ultimate stress reliever. If you’re looking for weight loss, fitness or just an alternative to the gym, then why not try one of many outdoor boot camp classes?
These classes combine the health benefits of being outdoors with an aerobic style class you’d usually find in the gym. An ideal way to burn off some frustration in an evening.
6. Go to the Park
If you’re struggling for a running partner, or somebody to go to that class with – then why not head to the park with the kids? A shocking stat in a government report mentioned that three-quarters of children go outside less than a prison inmate.
Taking the kids to the park benefits them and it helps you unwind from work also. Many traditional schoolyard games are actually a form of interval training (short sharp bursts of exercise) it’s great to get the heart pumping. The NHS have listed a selection of games to help kids get their 60 minutes of exercise per day.
It’s not all about running around either, why not get creative and go hunting for painted rocks in the latest craze that’s getting families outdoors.
7. Treasure Trails and Geocaching
Exploring your village/town/city will often if not always reveal something that you’ve not seen there before. Taking the time to look around, look up and look down will reveal history and heritage that may have passed you by. It all starts with a walk.
Geocaching is the hobby based around hunting out ‘caches’ using an app or your handheld GPS. A cache can be anything, but you can keep track of all the ones that you find, and there are hundreds of thousands all over the UK just waiting to be discovered. If you want to find out more, check out our beginners guide to geocaching.
If you’re looking for something simpler, then why not take a look at ‘Treasure Trails‘, maps of towns and places that help you discover hidden treasures where you live. A great activity for families or adults alike.
The activity you choose isn’t as important as simply taking some time for yourself, or with friends and family to clear your mind. Looking after your own mental health should be part of any healthy living regime, and often you can help to bring yourself back to center by simply taking a step back, or a step away from your technology and taking in some fresh air.
The NHS has a page of ideas for how to get fit for free, which make for ideal post-work activities. Give it a try, and see how you get on.