Typically we exercise within the confines of a stuffy gym, or at most go for a run around the suburban streets that we’ve grown up around but something is changing in the way we exercise, and it’s all thanks to milennials causing spikes in outdoor experiential fitness. Those of us born after 1986 are abandoning the gym and engaging in obstacle course activities that span the great outdoors such as Tough Mudder and The Spartan Race. In fact Tough Mudder’s participants have grown from 4,500 in 2010 to over 2 Million worldwide in just five years!
Of course, not all of us can handle the pressure of this 12 mile course designed to test your strength and will to its core, but there are plenty of other ways to experience a small slice of these new exercise trends.
Exercising outdoors is a brilliant way to get in touch with Mother Nature, and this is a trend that the Nords have been doing for years. Swedish Olympic rower Linda Hedenstrom explains the benefits:
“It’s great for cardio health and lung capacity – you have to work harder to keep warm, which makes you more efficient.”
- Setting difficult goals like getting fit outdoors doesn’t just boost serotonin due to the fresh air and oxygen you experience, not only that, but endorphins will be released thanks to exercising and smashing goals that are more difficult outdoors.
- The daily grind wears us down, literally. In fact, the average office worker spend 10 hours a day inside on a chair, only then to head indoors again to the gym. Exercising indoors can be monotonous, experience the great outdoors is a brilliant way to take in the scenery and bring some diversity to your daily regime.
What Outdoor Activities Can I try?
For those who want to get close to Mother Nature, but aren’t quite ready to sign up for adrenaline fuelled obstacle courses, a great gateway activity is the growing trend of Via Ferrata. This word translates as “Iron Way” and derives from the iron handle paths that were used to guide soldiers over the Alps in World War Two. Today, the original runs still act as supports in the mountain faces, but the activity is strictly for pleasure.
This climbing activity is open to any ability level looking to gain new experiences on rock faces across the world. Your team is led by an expert climbing guide who helps you navigate the cables, steps and ladders that lead to the summit of some of the world’s most stunning natural views. These well protected routes make is easy for anybody to ascend a stunning mountain side, a far cry from the monotony of the gym floor. What’s wonderful about this sport is you’re not attached on a rock face with a traditional belay as you are with typical rock climbing. You climb independently using the iron steps and cables attached straight to the mountain.
Via Feratta is certainly not for the faint hearted, but if you’re looking for something with a slightly higher adrenaline factor, then canyoning is for you. Expect; abseiling down waterfalls, scrambling through them and a chance to enjoy wild swimming. Much like Via Ferrata, this practice is ancient and is dated back to the prehistoric need to find food and shelter, though today these activities are thankfully, by choice and come accompanied with a trained expert and wetsuits! You will navigate deep gorges and rivers and battle with current through some scenery you’ll never forget. The cold water might shock your system, but the experience of being with nature and working as part of a team helping each other to navigate the way will be enough to encourage you further on the trail.
Sharing our Outdoor Experiences
The growing number of millenials experiencing exercise as a shared group activity doesn’t look to be slowing down, in fact with our need to share our social experiences it seems these group activities will only continue to grow.
In recent years social media has been inundated with exciting, home-made sporting videos thanks to the popularity of Go Pro wide angle cameras. This need to share exciting footage is encouraging more of us to undertake sporting activities we can share online with our peers. With each of us checking our smart phones 43 times a day it seems we’ve become obsessed with sharing our experiences, and if this is driving health and fitness through experiencing outdoor activities then this can only be a good thing. By exercising in the outdoors, we feed our health, fitness and social interaction needs and the newest trend of documenting our adventures online.