People feel the need to spend more time in nature. Many of us don’t give ourselves the opportunity to be out in the open, close to greenery and animals, and it’s inevitable to feel like something is missing. So, how to fight this hectic life of ours? We need to come up with ways to enjoy the natural light and fresh air as much as we can. If you are an active person who works out regularly, you have an option to be fit and healthy outside. The moment the weather is in your favour, take your training outside.
Living in Hong Kong has its benefits, especially to those who enjoy working out. Why spend your free time in a crowded gym where the air is stuffy when you can enjoy the sunlight like so many other workout enthusiasts? Mia Johnson, an Australian-based freelance writer with a ten-year long career in journalism, has written extensively about health, fitness, and lifestyle, and gives us her tips on exercising outdoors.
Why working out outside is so beneficial?
First of all, the fact is that outdoor air is 2–5 times better than the air inside a closed space. When working out outside, you also get a sufficient amount of vitamin D from the sun, which can help improve your mental health and your sleep. No matter what type of activity you’re doing outside, the constant changing in your surroundings is important. While running, cycling, or jogging, you are exposing your brain to various stimuli, as the people, the buildings, and the landscape are different at any second. This is something that can’t ever happen while you’re running on a treadmill in a gym.
As most people spend around 90 percent of their lives inside, it comes with serious disadvantages. Most of our sensory stimulation stays the same every day, causing one part of our brain to simply fall asleep. Everything around you is fixed and rarely changed — the temperature, the light, and the textures. All of that prevents our body and brain from becoming as intelligent as they could be. On the other hand, when you spend a lot of time outdoors, your body has to acclimatise to the surroundings — the temperature and weather conditions, as well as the terrain.
In addition, working out outside does wonders for your mood. Breathing fresh air can instantly improve your spirits. The reason behind this is the increase of endorphins in our bodies, which help to create a form of euphoria. Your mind gets a rejuvenated boost, making you want to work harder, and you will feel more energised and think more positively. In other words, breathing fresh air can decrease your stress levels. A majority of people feel the release of tension after they have walked for only 30 minutes.
As you are stimulated by your surroundings while working out outdoors, you will probably achieve more than you have planned. You won’t even notice when you managed to run a bit longer or faster. It is because you don’t feel bored while outside, and it’s that interest that keeps you preoccupied, distracting you from feeling tired. By spending more time outside, you will develop natural resistance to germs that would usually make you sick.
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The best places for working out in Hong Kong
Now that you have been convinced in incredible benefits of outdoor training, the next step is to identify the best location in the city for you to work out. Causeway Bay Sports Ground is the perfect location for those who enjoy quiet and peaceful sprints, while Tamar Park, on the other hand, is great if you want to be stimulated by various people and faces passing you while running. The amazing harbour backdrop will definitely catch your view, too. If you want to test your limits, then opt for Dragon’s Back — it provides splendid views and highly challenging trails.
Victoria Park may be the best spot to go to if you want to feel inspired by the positive energy of others working out around you. People of all ages, including seniors, enjoy some kind of activity here and it’s much easier to work out when everybody around you is being physically active, too. Some of them are doing tai chi, some are doing HIIT, while others are dancing with ribbons, or playing basketball. All of that energy also provides great motivation.
If you enjoy doing yoga and meditation, you’ll need a place in the city that will allow you to focus. The park at West Kowloon Cultural District is big enough to provide you with a secluded spot and plenty of shade. The Peak Trail is great if you want to enjoy a meditative hike, and Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park will provide you with a beautiful backdrop and humming sounds of the city — perfect for enjoying a yoga class.
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Photo credit: Sunday Shred HK
Great fitness classes to join
In case you want to become a member of a fitness club that holds classes outdoors, Hong Kong is the right place to find them. It is highly motivating to work out with others — you are encouraged to push your limits more when you are in a group. To manage to keep up with others, it’s necessary to be aware of your capabilities first and find classes that will suit you. Another thing is to make sure that your diet is adequate, in which case, you may also consider protein supplements to enhance your performance and exercise results. Supplements like True Protein, Protelicious, and many others provide various outcomes depending on your needs. Once you know you are eating right and you are more or less aware of your capabilities, you just need to choose the group to work out with.
If you don’t enjoy big gyms, then outdoor workout groups like Sunday Shred could be your thing. This exercise community believes that fresh air and natural smells are good for your body and mind. They usually mix stretching and guided meditation with boot camp exercises, so fitness geeks of all levels can find something that suits them. Tamar Park is their location, and classes follow a “pay as you wish” system.
Other fitness groups like Beer Body believe that workouts should be fun. These instructors love exploring Hong Kong neighbourhoods and making the best out of them by using their surroundings for exercise. Primal Fit, on the other hand, offers different exercises each time they do an outdoor workout. You are encouraged to use battle ropes, kettlebells, TRX, and more while working out. You will get a complete body workout here, no matter what your initial capabilities are. The instructors add humour to every class as well, so you won’t even notice how hard you’re working out.
Practical tips for working out outdoors
Once you choose the location you’d like to work out in, you need to explore the surroundings to know what to watch out for. It’s important to stay on clear paths and trails and not poke around the rocks too much if you know there could be venomous animals. If it’s tick and mosquito season, make sure your ankles and your lower body are well-covered in bug spray.
When running on uneven ground, it is possible you could lose the fight with gravity. Be aware of what you’re running on — look at the ground 10–15 feet in front of you to avoid any obstacles. In case you plan on running through the city, don’t expect the drivers and cyclists to watch out for you. And if you’re jogging early in the morning or in the evening, wear reflective clothing to be visible to vehicles. When working out alone, make sure that someone knows where you’re headed.
Dehydration is a very common thing in these situations. Drink plenty of water before you head out if you think you won’t have water available at the workout location. Try to carry a water bottle with you, especially during hot days.
Like any other great city, Honk Kong offers tons of possibilities, especially for those who want to enjoy the outdoors. Don’t let yourself be confined to a closed space for too long — there are better ways to spend your time, breathing the fresh air, and enjoying the ever-changing landscape around you.