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The Benefits of Exercising Outside

Gyms may be re-opening as we begin to ease further out of lockdown, but for some, contemplating exercising indoors may still feel a little too much. But how to address the task of shifting additional ‘lockdown pounds’ if you’re not in for a big gym session? Jen Wood chats to Restoration Yard’s in-house fitness expert and personal trainer Suzanne Maynard about the benefits of exercising outside. Jen’s been training in the park with Suzanne herself for a number of weeks as well as enjoying some of Suzanne’s new outdoor sessions. Here’s their five minute fitness boosting chat!

Suzanne Maynard, our in-house fitness expert and personal trainer, loves reaping the benefits of exercising outside

What’s the best thing about exercising outdoors?
Exercising outdoors has so many benefits for both physical and mental health. I believe lockdown has had a massive impact on our mental health and our confidence. Also, many of us are simply missing the group interaction from our gyms and exercise classes. There are also some who are unsure as to how to return to exercise safely and in line with the advice from the government.  People may need some support and friendly encouragement and motivation to get back into an exercising habit. I love training outdoors. I have a young family and being outside gives me head space and time to myself, while allowing me to recharge. I’m always encouraging people to get outside and embrace the good Scottish weather. 

“You have taught me to smash through my ‘exercising in the rain’ avoidance and I really appreciate that. I can’t say it’s been easy, but once I’m out there I feel great!”
Exactly! It’s about feeling the fear and doing it anyway. When we break through our blocks and avoidance strategies, we feel a sense of achievement which stays with us all day. It builds up our inner resilience, confidence and stamina, which are fantastic skills to build as they are transferable across our everyday roles and responsibilities. When we get that dopamine hit and feel the endorphins that release during exercise, we can learn to use this to help us break through other blocks we might have.

“That sounds very like what I tell my clients too. Stack healthy habits and feel the small wins building up to a real feeling of achievement and satisfaction. It’s great for self-esteem”
With my clients I use a similar approach, getting them to identify short, medium and long-term goals. We use this to monitor progress, to maintain motivation and build confidence in their abilities.

“I’ve certainly toned up and feel stronger since exercising outdoors.  Is this always the case?”
Yes, when we train outdoors we can vary the intensity by using different terrain, hills and outdoor ‘furniture’ such as fallen trees/tree stumps, picnic tables, benches, climbing frames and play park equipment.  It adds a fun challenge and then throw in the wind for added natural resistance, which in turn builds mental stamina.

Buggyfit at The Wellbeing Lab at Restoration Yard
BuggyFit isn’t just for mums but it is a great way to get back to fitness post-baby!

How does BuggyFit benefit mental as well as physical health?
The classes are tailored to support postnatal recovery and contain exercises specially selected to burn fat, build cardiovascular fitness, while strengthening and toning muscle groups. All this enables us to cope with the demands of motherhood. I am a qualified pre and postnatal coach and have combined my knowledge with my experience as a mother of two young boys when developing these classes. I understand  the challenges of the postnatal period and how we can become isolated. This is why it is important to get outdoors and meet up with others at a similar stage in life to us.

Is BuggyFit just for mums?
No, all parents or carers are welcome – BuggyFit classes are for those who want to get or remain fit while pushing a buggy. It’s a great way to boost your wellbeing, spend time with your little ones while getting fit and meeting new people.   All you need is a buggy and an open mind – and perhaps some waterproofs.

Get fit outside. Join one of our new , small and socially distanced outdoor classes.

6pm  ~   Monday Fit in 45 with Suzanne Maynard in Cat Haugh

10am  ~ Thursday BuggyFit with Suzanne Maynard on Palace lawn

10am  ~ Saturday Outdoors Summer Wake Up Yoga with Declan Mair in Cat Haugh (final week before it moves into The Wellbeing Lab)

Jen Wood is an emotional wellbeing coach, psychotherapist and mindfulness teacher with 20 years’ experience. She is also our Wellbeing Consultant at Dalkeith Country Park. Jen offers individual wellbeing coaching, therapy and mindfulness sessions via Zoom or by phone.

For more information about Jen, visit her website at jenwoodwellbeing.com.