By Philip Palmer, BA, CPT, GEI
Spring is in the air, yet in Ohio this might mean there are still some snow flurries along with beautiful chilly days. Even though it isn’t shorts and tank top weather, it doesn’t mean one has to shy away from doing things outside including workouts and other adventures. There are no perfect days and there are many health benefits to getting outside and doing workouts.
When it comes to working out, research shows numerous health benefits including improvements to cardiovascular health, weight management, an increase of bone strength, reduced stress, and increased sleep quality, just to name a few. These are great reasons to start working out, yet one thing that is rarely discussed is outdoor workouts.
There are many positive benefits to getting outside as one study showed moving outdoors reduced anger and depression along with improving mood. Exposure to sunlight enhances vitamin D production which might help with the mood enhancement.
A 2010 study showed that exercise outdoors near greenery or water boosted self-esteem. Exercising outside doesn’t have to be intense or complicated. The same study that showed outdoor exercise improved self-esteem also showed low to moderate physical activity boosted self-esteem the most. Here is a list of simple ways to increase your outdoor activities.
The Ohio-Erie Towpath Trail, or “towpath” for short, is a hiking and biking trail that follows the path of the former Ohio & Erie canal. It goes from Dover to Cleveland for almost 100 miles of trails.
If you don’t have a bike or means to get one to the trail, there are multiple shops along the trail that offer rentals starting from $6-$50 depending on the bike and the hours rented. Ernie’s Bike Shop, Brimstone Bicycles, Century Cycles, and Eddy’s Bike Shop offer bike rentals.
If the towpath isn’t your thing or if you don’t want to pay to rent, you can get a free bike rental with your Stark library card. The program called BikeSmart has bikes spread out all over Stark County. Bike rentals are free under 6 hours. Those without a Stark library card can still rent at a cost of $1 for each 30 minutes. See bike.zagster.com/stark/ for details.
If you’re feeling competitive, try a game of disk golf. Similar to golf except you use special frisbees as the ball and throw them into metal baskets which are the holes.
Disk golf courses tend to involve a lot of walking, cost nothing, and can be found all over the state at diskgolfscene.com. Some local favorites are Arboretum Spiker Park (Canton), Malone University (Canton), Deis Hill Park (Dover), Hudson Springs Park (Hudson), and Tank’s Run (Massillon).
Disk golf courses are usually beautiful places to hike but if you wanted a more traditional hike, check out alltrails.com/us/ohio. Some state favorites include Hocking Hills (Hocking), Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Brecksville), Mohican State Park (Loudonville), Mill Creek (Youngstown), Quail Hollow (Hartville), Slate Run (Canal Winchester), and Brookside Reservation (Cleveland). It might sound morbid but cemeteries usually have paved roads, along with zero mud.
According to Urban Farmer, March and April are great times to start planting cool weather vegetables. If you don’t have a garden, joining a community garden can be a great way to meet new people who want to share their knowledge.
Also, many of these community gardens offer tools for a small rental fee. You can find all things related to local farming and gardening at localharvest.org.
If you want to see some of the over 400+ different species of birds, you can find locations all over the state at ohiobirds.org.
A few local favorites are Sippo Lake Park (Canton), and Foxfield Preserve (Wilmont).
When it comes to dog walking, you don’t have to own one. You can get paid to walk dogs on services like Wag and Rover. This could be a great reason to get out and explore new places with a furry friend in tow.
When it comes to getting outside and doing things, I’ve noticed what holds many people back is if they don’t have someone to go with them. Yes, many aspects of life are more fun with someone at your side, yet you never know who you might meet if you’re by yourself. If you don’t want to fly solo, the site MeetUp introduces you to people with similar interests.
All the topics I’ve mentioned have local meetups for biking, disk golfing, hiking, gardening, bird watching, to others like pickleball or running. If you have used the excuse that you have no one to go with, that is no longer valid. Have fun and get outside.
Get Out and Work Out this Spring