Step outdoors to exercise for double the health and fitness benefits.

Getting active is good for your health, but you can double the benefits by getting physical in nature.

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Even a jog around your own suburb can be better than always working out indoors.

Fitness Australia’s 2014 survey revealed that 40% of Australians want to get fit, but are not members of a gym. For many the reason may be that they prefer the idea of exercising outdoors. Not only are there many ways to workout outdoors, but there are as many reasons why your body will thank you for it – and it’s the perfect time of year to start.

In the past 10 years participation in walking has increased by 44% and bushwalking by 16%. Walking is free and technology offers a walking trainer in your pocket. Keep it fresh by downloading an app that offers ideas of new routes to take, counts your steps and calculates your distance and calories burned.

Putting one foot in front of the other along a beach, through the bush or around a park, can reduce negative thoughts and elevate your mood, rejuvenate and revitalise your body, and help you navigate your way through stressful life events.

For those who want to up the anti, trekking is trending fast, with converts taking on everything from the Wild Women On Top Coastrek events, to climbing Mount Fuji and hiking the high passes of Bhutan. Who said walking was dull and too easy.

If you have a bike hiding at the back of the garage, dust it off, pump up the tyres and join the lycra crew. Take your ride for a jaunt around Centennial or Olympic Park, or on an off road adventure along The Wylde MTB Trail or Terrey Hills in the Northern beaches.

A little pedal action, on your own, or with friends is not only enjoyable, but reduces blood pressure and cholesterol, helps prevent and manage cardiovascular disease and diabetes and improves your coordination and balance.

You could simply move the circuit workout you have been doing in the front room on dark winter evenings into the outdoors. Just pop your dumbbells in your back pack and find a patch of nature. It could be your back yard, the local park or the beach front.

Enjoy a double dose of goodness as both resistance training and a sunny dose of Vitamin D boost your bone density, strength and immunity. You will reap the benefits of another dual bang for your burn, as exercising and being out in the fresh air improve your memory, concentration and creativity, as well as alleviating insomnia. Nature is calling.

By Rachel Livingstone Personal Trainer & Owner of The Health Hub www.healthhub.net.au

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