Don’t just exercise, do it outside

The first step to becoming antifragile, and the first skill of Inner Leadership, is the ability to remain centred and grounded at all times. This becomes easier the more we deepen our self-awareness.

Two of the four recommended ways of deepening our self-awareness this are taking exercise and spending time in nature. We obtain the maximum benefit when we combine the two.

Doctors in the UK, the USA, and in Scotland are literally writing prescriptions for outdoor activity.

Drug: Exercise in Glen Canyon Park
Dose: 45 minutes of running or walking
Directions: Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, 7am
Refills: Unlimited

The UK also has several outdoor exercise programmes, including Boot Camps and Green Gyms (which include activities such as planting trees). You can read about the top ten, here.

In the USA there are at least 50 such programs. And the Appalachian Mountain Club is working with MassGeneral Hospital to prescribe regular outdoor physical activity for children.

The Japanese government has long recommended the benefits of forest bathing.

And in Australia, people are increasingly exploring the health and medical benefits of their national parks.

More and more people are also choosing to go on a long distance walk called a Camino. A thousand years ago people walked the Camino as a religious pilgrimage. Today it is an excellent way to set aside time for fresh air, exercise, and reflection. I recently met someone who walked a Camino as a way to gain clarity on a life-changing investment decision. Another used the time to bring clarity on a complex creative project.

On the one hand it might seem crazy that we have forgotten to do something as simple as exercise in nature. But on the other hand it works. People who take exercise outside not only get fit, they also gain vitamin D from sunlight and feel happier.

You can read more about this here. Or, instead of reading about it, you could choose to do it — either this lunchtime or this weekend.

Adapted from Inner Leadership: a framework and tools for building inspiration in times of change.

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(And remember: you don’t learn to swim by reading about swimming, you also have to practice.)

Photo By Ludo Rouchy via

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