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Drop the gym fees and get fit outside

This may not be a popular opinion, but I personally prefer the British autumn to the damp summers we tend to have here. The weather is still warm and the changing foliage creates a beautiful canvas which is perfect for outdoor exercise.

Despite the fact that the majority of us live in towns and cities, we are all children of nature and are drawn to beautiful outdoor spaces full of trees, animals and water. There’s even a word for it, quite lovely in fact: biophilia. The environment in which our ancestors used to live in was full of physical obstacles and they didn’t need high-tech equipment like air cushioned soles and heart-rate monitors to keep fit. All he needed was a few rotting tree trunks and pre-historic man was lean, mean and happy.

Time and time again, studies led by reputable teams have shown that exercise outdoors is more beneficial than that done in indoor gyms.

There are lots of activities you can do to get Bolt-fit and become more serene than the Dalai Lama and varying activities will mean you’re more likely to stick to an exercise regime that keeps you motivated and enthusiastic.

Wild swimming

Remember when you were a kid and used to take dips wherever there was a tempting lake or river? That’s wild swimming, and it’s become somewhat of a trend. The secret is to find the right places, free of pollution and in peaceful areas. Thankfully, there are whole books published on the subject as well as some reliable websites (The Wild Swimming Society, for example) – you’ll most likely find a place nearer to your house than you think. Further afield, there are, of course, wonderful opportunities for wild swimming abroad, and you can plan active adventure holidays around keeping fit with swimming. Go for places with crystalline watering holes – for example, the cenotes in the Yucatan – a network of beautiful caves filled with water.

Green Gym

The first Green Gym was set up eleven years ago, by the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers. Beyond improving volunteers’ health, it’s also a community project to develop public spaces and build relationships in various areas. Now there are ninety five Green Gyms across the UK, so you can be sure that there will be one near you. And don’t worry if your fingers are more pink than green – most participants have never done conservation work before so you can learn together.

Back Country Cycling

Four years ago, the average number of kilometres cycled per capita in the UK was pitiful, especially when compared with the Netherlands. But thanks to improved awareness among drivers and the stellar performance of Team GB in the Olympics, that number is rising all the time. There are tons of small country roads just begging to be cycled along, and many pubs along them for some well-deserved refreshments. For some challenges and an added cultural element, why not integrate cycling to your holiday? Try a cycling holiday in Europe to satiate your new found lust for bicycles.

Free running

Also known as ‘parkour’, free running has developed a lot of mystique and cachet over the years, thanks to the French group Yamakasi and films such as the Bourne Ultimatum and Casino Royale. The aim is to develop a fluid line of movement, using natural obstacles like tree trunks, rivers and ravines as springboards and bridges. It takes a while to get used to the freedom and to trust your points of balance, but it’s a really fun way to exercise and uses every muscle fibre in your body.

 

Lalage’s top adventure holidays include kayaking in Scotland and cycling in Spain

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