9 top tips for enjoying the outdoors this spring
The clocks going forward will rob us of an hour in bed, but on the bright side, we’ll have more daylight hours. Livy Watson tells you how to use them wisely to maintain your heart health.
1. Enjoy the great outdoors
Make the most of your local park. Many now offer free outdoor gyms, with low-impact equipment such as exercise bikes, cross trainers and stretch stations.
Many parks also have tennis courts that you can reserve for a small fee. Or, to keep it simple, why not enjoy a healthy picnic supper followed by a relaxed game of bat and ball, Frisbee, boules or short cricket?
Find out if there's an outdoor gym near you
2. Put a spring in your step
Meet friends for an evening walk, or join a walking group to meet new people. The walking charity Ramblers has more than 500 rambling groups in England, Scotland and Wales. The association also runs a Get Walking Keep Walking programme for people who want to become more active. You can also find walking routes at walkit.com.
3. Picture the moment
"There are many free or inexpensive photography walking events across the UK"
Photographers call the last hour before dusk the golden hour because of the soft, photo-friendly light. To work out when this falls, use the calculator at golden-hour.com and then march out with your camera in search of beautiful views and wildlife. There are many free or inexpensive photography walking events across the UK.
Or if you fancy a short break away, Ramblers Holidays (not to be confused with the charity Ramblers) organises Walking With Your Camera trips that teach you to be a better photographer, while discovering British landscapes.
4. Love your garden
Spring is the perfect time to plant early potatoes, onions, shallots and summer-flowering bulbs. You’ll also reap the benefits later if you cut back shrubs, take the weeds in hand and mow the lawn. If you don’t have a garden or allotment to get stuck into, find a community gardening organisation near you and meet like-minded people.
5. Get on your bike
"Aerobic activity such as cycling is good for your heart, and you’ll also save on transport costs"
Aerobic activity such as cycling is good for your heart, and you’ll also save on transport costs. More than a third of the British population cycle, but if you don’t already have a bike, you can buy a cheap one second-hand or get a tax-free one through the Cycle to Work scheme.
You can find local routes at cyclemaps.org.uk and cycle-route.com. For navigating on the go, why not download the Complete National Cycle Network app for Android and iPhone? This is available from apple.com/uk/itunes or play.google.com free of charge.
Remember to stay safe by wearing reflective accessories such as an armband and make sure you have lights. You can buy both of these items from our online shop or by calling 0845 246 4050.
See our tips on getting back on your bike
6. Explore your natural habitat
Many animals and birds are more visible (or audible) in the spring. Owl watching, for instance, is easier in the lighter evenings. For more purposeful nature spotting, join or set up a BioBlitz. In these nationwide events, members of the community work with scientists to identify and monitor as many species as possible.
7. Discover romantic locations
There are various websites dedicated to matchmaking those who enjoy spending time outdoors. Visit outdoorduo.co.uk or outdoor-dating.co.uk to meet others who share your love of all things al fresco.
8. Have a housework workout
A good spring clean increases the heart rate and burns calories. For example, an hour of heavy cleaning, such as vacuuming, burns approximately 250 calories. To find out how many you could burn, see our calorie calculator.
9. Join a Green Gym
Established by The Conservation Volunteers, Green Gyms get you active while you help the environment. Led by a qualified person, groups meet at least once a week to do between one and four hours of practical – and sociable – conservation or gardening work. There are about 100 Green Gyms around the UK, and they welcome people of all ages, fitness levels and abilities. Sessions include a safety talk and warm-up and cool-down periods.
Are you having a spring clear out? If so, take your lovely things to a BHF shop and help us in our fight against heart disease. Get more information or call 0844 334 1414 to arrange a collection free of charge.