It’s easy to fall into a rut on your couch. Whether it’s too cold or too hot outside, or you just can’t put down the latest thriller, we’ve all stayed horizontal too long. Moving around outside is the best cure for couch potato syndrome. Letting the sun shine on your face will boost your mood, a deep breath of fresh air will invigorate you and even the lightest activity is good for your muscles, joints and circulatory system.
Read on for the eight best ways to get off the couch – and then actually get off your couch and go try them!
1. Go for a Walk and Listen to a New Album, Podcast or Audio Book
Some people need no other reason to walk than the pleasure of traversing their neighborhood by foot. In addition to the sensory delights and relaxing effect of walking, many famous writers and thinkers swore by their daily strolls as a source of inspiration and enlightenment. However, today’s lifestyle is fast-paced and overloaded with choices. If you want to exercise, there are many ways to do so. Why walk, then?
Walking is free, doesn’t harm the environment and ties you more intimately to your community. However, if you still find the idea of a walk about as much fun as doing your laundry, add the enticement of something fun to listen to. Enjoy an audio book, new podcast or the latest album from one of your favorite artists.
Still not motivated to get off the couch? Give yourself a specific destination by running an errand on foot. It could be as simple as walking a piece of mail to the post office or going to the convenience store for a bottle of milk. You’ll still get all the benefits of walking, plus you can check an item off your to-do list.
2. Find a Trail to Hike – It’s Not as Hard as You May Think
Another way to dress up the basic walk is by turning it into a hike. If you’re picturing “Wild,” fear not. Hiking doesn’t have to involve expensive boots, an oversized backpack or any of the other obstacles Cheryl Strayed encounters in her journey across the Pacific Crest Trail.
Simply put on a pair of sneakers or comfortable shoes, grab a water bottle and a snack, and look up your closest trail. Most state parks feature a variety of trails, from flat to hilly and on pavement or off-road. You can control the length of your hike. If the trail is longer than you want to walk, just walk for half the length of time you want to stay out, then turn around. For example, if you want to hike for an hour, walk for a half hour before heading back.
3. Take a Child to the Playground
One of the best ways to have fun outdoors is with the company of children. You don’t have to be a parent to put this idea into practice. Offer a friend or family member an hour or two of free babysitting and head to the nearest playground. Bring a ball and/or a dog with you for extra fun.
Playing with kids allows you to tap into fun memories from your own childhood. It also forces you to move at a slower pace and appreciate the little things, such as butterflies and rocks. Children can be the best meditation teachers, as they don’t know how to exist anywhere else except the present moment.
If you get worn out before your companion wants to go home, relax on a bench and watch them have fun.
4. Rent a Canoe for the Afternoon
Did you go to camp as a child? Chances are it involved a spin or two around the lake in a canoe. Whether or not you enjoyed it then, you’re likely to appreciate canoeing a lot more as an adult. In addition to the physical health benefits, paddling is an activity that takes you off the grid. Imagine paddling a canoe across a peaceful lake. All you need is your own strength to propel your boat through the water. You’ll probably keep your phone in your pocket “just in case,” but turn it off, take a deep breath and enjoy the tranquility of nature.
Of course, you can also enjoy a canoe ride with a friend or group of friends. It’s a great way to socialize while also getting in shape together. Top off a wonderful day of paddling with a delicious picnic on the shore.
5. Go Horseback Riding
Riding a horse is a different way to enjoy the outdoors. You can explore the same trails available to you as a hiker, but go greater distances without breaking as much of a sweat. However, horseback riding isn’t a passive activity. In addition to strengthening your legs and arms, it improves balance, coordination and flexibility.
If you’ve never ridden, look for stables that offer lessons. More experienced riders can find stables that will rent out a horse for a few hours. If you’re low on cash, some facilities will allow you to trade work around the stable for a free ride.
6. Join a Company Sports Team or Find One in Your Community
If you work for a large corporation, it probably has a company sports team for baseball, softball, tennis and other popular activities. If such a thing doesn’t exist in your office, ask if you can start one.
If you’d rather not have your recreational and work life intertwined, search for a community sports league or Meetup group for your favorite sport. Joining a team is a great way to be held accountable for regular exercise. It’s a good option for social people who don’t like to exercise alone. In addition to getting in shape, you just might make some new friends.
7. Explore a New City by Bicycle
Many cities across the U.S. and the world have bike share programs, a convenient and inexpensive way to ride around. The next time you have an itch to explore a new place, plan to get around on two wheels. Even if there’s no bike share, you can still rent a bike from a local bicycle or sports shop. You’ll get a good workout and experience more of the city than you would from a bus or car.
8. Start a Garden
The easiest way to get outside is to stay in your own backyard. Especially on low-energy days, you’ll benefit from time in the sun without having to go very far. If you don’t have much of a green thumb, start small. Visit a garden center and ask for recommendations of hard-to-kill plants. You may not have a yard, but you can still plant in small containers and window boxes. Once you bring your flowers home, you’ll have a twice-daily reason to go outside and care for them. Watering your plants and cutting off dead flowers and leaves can be very soothing and meditative. It prompts you to be still and focus on what’s in front of you.