If you’re looking to get fit and active, then heading to the gym to endlessly traipse over the same few metres of motorised rubber is probably not the best approach. That isn’t to say that there isn’t a place for treadmills, stationary bikes and cross-trainers – but that such things should ideally be a supplement for more outdoor activities – where you’ll have the chance to enjoy the scenery, and benefit from the fresh air.
Let’s take a look at a trio of activities that might help you to reach your fitness goals in the outdoors.
If you’re looking to get fit from a very low starting position, then it’s best to simply start putting one foot in front of the other. Walking needn’t be high-intensity, and you needn’t do it in enormous ten-mile doses – a stroll around the block is enough to get you started, and from there you can move up to more taxing courses.
One of the main advantages of a walk in the countryside is that it’s easy to do – you needn’t make an enormous investment in equipment, getting started is virtually self-explanatory. In order to get the best from hiking, there are a number of items you might find useful.
The first and most important of these is a decent pair of hiking boots. These will help to support your feet as you make your way through the hills, valleys, forests and fields of the United Kingdom, and they’ll also prevent blistering injuries. If you need to navigate an especially boggy stretch of footbath, you’ll be grateful that you packed a pair of proper hiking boots.
Long walks place a bit of a strain onto the knees, and so you might wish to invest in a pair of hiking poles to help distribute the impact of walking across the entire body, thus reducing the likelihood of joint problems.
If you’re taking your dog out for you when you’re hiking, then you’ll need a few extra items. The most important of these is a good lead – ideally one which spreads the force of your tugs across the dog’s upper torso. Controlling your dog is essential when you’re walking in the countryside – particularly if you’re walking near to livestock.
Cross country running is a great alternative to track-based running. Since the surfaces on offer are so varying, it’ll tax your leg muscles in entirely different ways, which will go a long way toward preventing injury. It’ll also help to keep your mind engaged, and alleviate boredom – each mile that you run, after all, will be slightly different to the last.
In order to get the best from cross country running, it’s important to attack it wholeheartedly. The experience is quite different to running on a racetrack, and so your body will need to get used to the new form of stress. It’s important that you don’t place much stock in your race pace; since you’ll be running over a constantly-varying course, which is forever going up and down, the speed at which you’re running will be useless as a measure of how well you’re running. A heartrate monitor might provide a better guide, but ultimately you’ll need to learn what the right amount of effort feels like in order to progress.
As far as equipment goes, you’ll need to invest in some cross-country spikes in order to get the best from the activity. These will dig much further into the ground, and thereby offer a far greater degree of grip.
Cycling is perhaps the most difficult of these three outdoor activities to get into, as it requires that you invest in a bicycle and an accompanying helmet. Helmets come in many shapes and sizes, but they’re all of a similar safety standard, thanks to EU regulations. In order to get the best from cross-country cycling, ensure that your tyres are well inflated, and that you have a constant supply of water at hand. Cycling across country is thirsty work!
If you’re transporting your bicycle from one place to another, you’ll need to keep your car upholstery protected against mud, dirt and scratches. Car boot liners carry out this function admirably. They’re sheets of material designed to protect the interior. They can be easily removed and laundered alongside the rest of your washing, and make a great antidote to dirty shoes, bikes and dogs. The best of them are specially-made from a given model of car – so whether you’re looking for a Vauxhall, Volkswagon or Volvo boot liner, you’ll find it from online specialist shops.