With summer now finally here, it’s a great time to grab every opportunity you can to be outdoors. Enjoying the warmer days and evenings with friends and family means being out in the fresh air as much as possible – so why not create some new and healthy habits whilst you’re at it?
Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares 5 ways you can really benefit from the outdoor life and enhance your wellbeing.
EMBRACE OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES
There are so many ways to enjoy exercise outside during the summer months. And for those of you that really hate the gym (or just don’t want to be inside on a beautiful day), now’s the time to switch it up and get moving outdoors.
One of the most accessible forms of exercise, which is great for all the family, is cycling. And of course it’s becoming more and more popular, particularly with our recent Olympic successes! Hiking is also a great way of getting out and about, whether it’s a circuit or two of your local park or a day hike in the hills.
If you want to keep fit and raise your heart rate then burpees (squat down, jump your legs out behind you, and then jump back up into the air) and walking or alternating lunges are two of the best exercises you can do. Try to see how many burpees you can do in 3 minutes. If you’ve only just started, it won’t be very many initially but this will quickly improve as your fitness levels increase. Even better join a class in the park – there are so many popping up all over the country and all levels of fitness are welcome.
ENJOY HEALTHY BARBECUES
There’s nothing better than the wonderful taste of food freshly cooked on the barbecue, with all those delicious aromas in the air! However, it’s very easy to do the basics and throw a few sausages on the barbecue, served with a traditional lettuce-based salad but it’s not the healthiest. Instead, why not try something different, where you’ll still get your barbecued meat ‘fix’ but with the added benefit of some vegetables for extra vitamin C!
Homemade burgers produced with lean beef mince, roasted red peppers and shredded carrot are really tasty and easy to make: Pre-roast some de-seeded red peppers for around 15 minutes and then finely chop. Then mix up the lean mince, some breadcrumbs, beaten eggs, the roasted peppers and some shredded carrot. Make them into rounds and you’ve got delicious and healthy burgers to go straight onto the barbecue. Serve them with some chopped vine tomatoes, mixed with basil leaves, cucumber and onions and you’ve got a really healthy meal, packed with vitamin C!
Whether you’ve got a garden, a patio, a balcony or just a windowsill, there’s always room for a herb garden!
As well as providing some wonderful flavours to your recipes, culinary herbs also provide some amazing health benefits. Rosemary, which is the perfect accompaniment to roasted lamb, is really good for the digestive system, but also protects the gut against any nasty invaders; it’s therefore, great to eat before traveling to foreign countries.
Sage, which really gives stews and pork dishes a real lift, is often used in mouthwashes but can also be made into a tea, which helps support the immune system.
Thyme, with its distinctive aroma and taste, is a great addition to soups and meat dishes, and is packed with essential oils which support the digestive system plus have beneficial antiseptic properties.
No space is too small for your personal herb garden and both your culinary skills and your health will reap the rewards!
DINE AL FRESCO
Just because you’re planning to eat outside doesn’t mean you always have to barbecue. It’s really relaxing just to be able to sit outside on a warm evening and enjoy your usual home menu. But why not evoke a Mediterranean vibe and prepare a traditional mezze plate?
For example, lay out some griddled aubergine (also called eggplant), roasted artichokes, fresh vine tomatoes, cucumber, Parma ham, cubed feta cheese, chopped fresh figs, olives and hummus with some warmed olive ciabatta bread. There’s something for everyone on this plate and you’ve got a great balance of nutrients, protein and carbohydrates so everyone will feel replenished. You can sit and pick at this varied mezze for hours and it also makes a great party platter!
JUST BE OUTSIDE!
Just because you’re outside, doesn’t mean you’ve got to be racing around! You can just sit and enjoy the outdoors, taking in the scenery and watching the world go by or just have some quiet time to yourself reading a book in the open air.
Vitamin D deficiency continues to be a real problem in the UK, so sitting in the sunshine for around 15 minutes a day without sun cream will really boost your vitamin D levels. This in turn will boost your mood and your immune system as well as help support your bones.
Everyone seems happier when the sun comes out. And living in our fast-paced digital age has its benefits but it also means we never fully switch off. Just taking a gentle stroll outdoors and really absorbing the world around can be incredibly therapeutic. Most importantly, make some time for yourself outside, without distractions such as mobile phones or tablets.
So while the weather holds, grab every opportunity you can to get out and about and enjoy the many benefits outdoor living can bring!
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