The Outdoor Pursuits For 2021
The new year is prime time to set new intentions and this year is likely to begin with a renewed enthusiasm. Having spent the past twelve months under a number of social and physical restrictions, it’s understandable to want to get out into nature as much as possible.
Physical activity is a way to release serotonin, which in turn can improve mood and overall health. Here are our top ideas for those looking to develop new habits for the year ahead. These are activities that can not only boost your fitness and wellbeing, but can still be done to some degree whatever COVID-19 restrictions may be put in place.
Get outside more
This is a common resolution, but one that’s being employed with even more enthusiasm right now. Between working from home and lockdowns, getting out in the fresh air has taken on a new meaning for some.
In the depths of winter the weather can often be an excuse to stay in, but as Sir Ranulph Fiennes famously exclaimed, “there is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” Layering up correctly, investing in thermals, and decent boots or trainers can be all you need to start leaning into the cold and exploring the outdoors even in the dank dark days of winter.
The uptake on wild swimming this year has been exponential. Whether it’s in ponds, lakes, rivers or the ocean, people have been enjoying the benefits of open water swimming, and cold immersion during the winter.
You should know the water source you are swimming in, and always try to buddy up, which can be done at a safe social distance in almost all cases. Anyone who was gifted the Wim Hof book this Christmas will no doubt be aware of the health benefits of cold water immersion, which stimulates the nervous system. Be sensible, be safe, and always make sure you have the means to warm up after your dip.
There are many different styles of yoga, from hatha and ashtanga, through to rocket and yin. These days it’s possible to find a form of yoga to suit pretty much anyone.
The internet is awash with free and subscription based video classes and there are even open air classes taking place in public spaces like parks. At a time when uncertainty is still hanging in the air, getting in tune with your body, your breath and movement really is a sensible step in the right direction. Meditative states are essentially flow states, a zone we are only too keen to explore.
Running is one of the most popular new years resolutions and a powerful way to improve fitness and stamina. Whether you’re going from couch to 5k, joining weekly Park Runs when they resume fully - which take place on Saturdays all over the UK - or training for long slogs like half marathons, marathons and ultras.
You can join some fantastic trail runs through organisations like Maverick Races and Endurance Life, or take your own sweet time meandering through forests, dales and coastline paths.
A dominant force in the realm of home fitness, high intensity interval training (HIIT) is perhaps one of the most efficient ways to improve fitness in a short period of time.
However, rather than doing it in your front room, get yourself out to the park, beach or heathland. Incorporate some hill repeats, use natural features and revel in the sight of your breath turning to steam on icy winter mornings. There’s no high quite like it.
Snow hiking Scotland
For pure isolation and serious mountain exposure, heading up to the Highlands in Scotland can deliver some serious wilderness kicks. While some are out in the Alps hiking for their powder, there are actually plenty of clean white fields up here that remain untracked. Kickers left unbuilt and panoramas that often take in the northern lights at the right time of year.