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These past few months have definitely been challenging but no matter what challenges we face, it is important to still take care of both our physical and mental health. Thankfully we have the great outdoors to help us with both! Here are four ideas for activities to boost your physical and mental health, while also helping you connect with nature.

Hiking

Hiking is a great cardiovascular exercise that helps keep our heart strong but can also be great for our mental health. A study from Stanford in 2015 showed that the time that you spend outside reduces negative thought patterns. If you’re with family members or friends, it also gives you time to share your thoughts and feelings and have meaningful conversations. 

No equipment is needed necessarily and you can tailor your choice of trail to your abilities. Some trails are paved and wheelchair accessible while others can be quite rugged and adventurous. Not sure where to go? Check out Alltrails.com for ideas close to home or to explore a new place. Make sure you bring a map, water, snacks, bug spray and sunscreen! 

Cycling

For a more fast-paced activity, cycling is a great option. Rollerblades or a scooter can be used as well. These activities can be great for those who need a low-impact exercise. If you don’t have a bike yourself, many cities have a bike-share program. Bikes can also be rented for short periods of time. Make sure you wear a helmet and know how to signal your direction to others around you to stay safe. Check out Bike Trails Ontario for paths close to you: Click Here  

Reading

For a change of pace, why not try reading outside? Reading in combination with the warm outdoor breeze is the perfect way to support your mental health and relax. Reading allows you to gain new information about a variety of topics or escape from the real world if you enjoy reading fictional books. 

Mindful Meditation 

Grab a yoga mat, blanket or pillow that you can bring outside or on a deck, balcony or patio. Sit or lie flat on your back in a comfortable position, close your eyes and clear your head from all your thoughts. Try to focus on inhaling and exhaling for as many minutes as you need. This is a great way to reduce your stress levels and relieve the body from any tension that you might feel. Studies show that meditation stimulates the frontal and parietal lobes of the brain, which processes sensory information and controls your emotions. It is also a great way to not only connect to your own body but also take in the breath of fresh air. In the long term, meditating teaches you to keep yourself grounded and helps your body and mind achieve a calm state. If you prefer guided meditation, check out apps like Headspace or Calm.

Stay safe and have a relaxed and fun summer!

References and further readings:

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