Now that the colder weather is (mostly) behind us, we can all look forward to enjoying more of the sunshine and taking advantage of all that summer has to offer. There are numerous ways in which we can do this, regardless of our age or physical capabilities. Just because you are advancing in years or buy wide fit shoes, for example, doesn’t mean you can’t get out and enjoy the outdoors. To help stir your imagination for what is possible, we’ve put together this guide to outdoor activities to enjoy this summer, including everything from low-impact sports to country walks and family days out. Let’s dive in and discuss what you could be getting up to now that things are heating up.
For those not wanting to venture too far away from home this summer but still want to enjoy the sun when it’s out, gardening is a great hobby to pick up. It’s amazing what can be done with very little space and people around the country find great joy tending to their gardens, big or small. If you have some outdoor space at home but have never taken gardening too seriously, consider looking for some flowers and plants that could help make your garden an enjoyable place to relax in. The great thing about gardening is not only the act of looking after your garden but also enjoying the fruits of your labour afterwards! Make sure you have a nice comfy chair to sit down in, grab a cool drink, and enjoy the sun in your own little garden getaway. If you want a few pointers, the RHS has a great resource of advice for beginners.
Speaking to us about why he believes gardening makes such a great outdoor activity to enjoy, Nick from the gardening blog, Two Thirsty Gardeners, said: “Gardening is a great outdoor activity because when you work with nature it somehow enables you to relax and enjoy things at a slower pace. You get to learn so much about what goes on in the plant and animal kingdom every time you spend an hour or two in the garden and, at the end of it, you feel calmer and a little bit healthier too.”
In terms of tips for those looking to begin this great new hobby, Nick says: “The best advice for beginners is to start small. Pick one corner of the garden or find a planting container and focus on that until it’s just the way you want it. There’s no rush to do everything at once.”
Catherine from the outdoor and gardening blog, Growing Family, also has some great advice for those who like the sound of gardening this summer but are unsure about where to start: “I honestly think the best way to start gardening is to just get out there and grow something! Having a go yourself really is the best way to learn. You don’t need to be an expert, and there are loads of great blogs and books to help you when you need advice. I’d also say start by growing something you either love to look at, or love to eat - you’ll enjoy looking after it so much more.”
Catherine also has a great suggestion for a way to enjoy visiting gardens that aren’t your own: “I’d definitely recommend the National Open Garden Scheme, which raises money for nursing and health charities. It’s a brilliant way to explore other people’s gardens close to where you live, and great for getting lots of inspiration as well as spending time outdoors. You can find out what’s open in your area at www.ngs.org.uk/find-a-garden/.”
A great way to enjoy the outdoors this summer (and hopefully some nice weather) is with a relaxing country walk. Pavements aren’t always easy on the feet but that doesn’t mean a walk can’t be tremendously enjoyable and also good for our bodies. Up and down this beautiful country of ours are some truly majestic country walks available, across all sorts of terrain. Whether that’s the woods of the New Forest in Hampshire or the moors of Exmoor in Devon and Somerset, there will be something for all abilities. Heading out into the country for a relaxing stroll at your own pace and with good company will prove to be a fantastic way to spend a summer’s afternoon. The National Trust has even put together a helpful map of country walks so you can find one nearby. You never know, there might even be a local pub at the end!
Singing the praises of walking as an outdoor activity for those of us advancing in age, Ageless After Fifty’s Linda Melone – a health and fitness coach for women over 50 – told us: “Walking is a good basic outdoor activity for most people as it requires no special skills or equipment other than a good pair of walking shoes. Achy knees and hips, however, can make this difficult for some people. If you have knee or hip pain, walking poles can make it easier, and always wear proper walking shoes and warm up by walking slowly before picking up the pace. Consider joining a walking club as the camaraderie and support will keep you motivated and add a fun, social aspect to your routine.”
Engaging in some physical exercise is a great way to enjoy the outdoors this summer but for some of us, we need to make sure that we are not participating in anything that will be too strenuous on our bodies. The good news is that there are many wonderful low-impact sports out there that we can enjoy. Swimming is certainly one of these, popular with people of all ages and fitness levels, and is considered to be a tremendous choice for people who want to protect their joints. Offering a great workout for your muscles and lungs, you can stay fit at your own pace and also have a great time in the process. Whether it’s at a local outdoor swimming pool or at the beach, swimming is something that should certainly be considered.
Another wonderful option in terms of low-impact sports – just in case the water feels too cold this summer – is cycling. Taking you off your feet and giving them a rest, cycling is also a wonderful option for those with problem joints. Cycling doesn’t really impact the joints – something that many of us over the age of 50 will be happy about – because of the smooth effort and motion involved with operating the pedals. Don’t feel like you need to go at tremendous speeds; cycling can be a lovely and relaxing hobby to pick up, allowing you (either alone or with friends and family) to enjoy a leisurely bike ride down picturesque trails or even along the seafront. Do a bit of research and discover some popular cycling paths near you and give it a go! You never know, you might discover your new favourite hobby! Just make sure to stop for a refreshing drink now and then.
Linda from Ageless After Fifty recommends both swimming and cycling as great low-impact activities but suggests: “Regardless of which you choose, always warm up first and increase your workout intensity slowly and over time. Too much too soon can lead to injuries.” Linda also says that walking, swimming and cycling can be done regardless of fitness ability and, “if you're unsure of your form or, in the case of biking, the proper way to set up your bike, consult a professional. Bike shops, for example, usually have people who can help you choose a bike and show you how to adjust the seat to your needs.”
Days out with friends and family
Moving away from the world of exercise, days out with friends and family can’t be overlooked. No matter where you are in the UK, there are some brilliant ideas for things to do with those you care about, many of which will also get you outside. Visiting your local zoo is always a good idea or venturing further afield to some of the nation’s most renowned locations like London Zoo and Chester Zoo. If animals aren’t your cup of tea, there are many more options available, such as visiting picturesque country houses and historic castles. Have a think about what you and your family might enjoy, as there will surely be an outdoor attraction nearby.
What to do outdoors this summer
- Country walks
- Days out with friends and family
We hope the above suggestions have given you a few ideas about what you could get up to outdoors this summer. No matter your age or capability, there is an activity waiting to be enjoyed. So, whether you fancy swimming, a country walk, or visiting your local zoo, good times are sure to be had during the great British summer.