Spending time outdoors can improve your mood, lower your risk of developing certain diseases, and even help you recover from illness quicker. What are you waiting for?
Cape Town offers a variety of outdoor pursuits, so for many locals, spending time in nature is really quite easy. From beaches and walking trails to seaside promenades and picnic sites, there are a number of options to choose from on any given weekend. Even so, many of us still end up spending most of our time inside as we try to balance work and home life. But, did you know that there is more to spending time outdoors than enjoying the views? According to a number of studies, being outside could go a long way in improving overall wellness. So, if you’re tempted to spend your weekend on the couch, think again. Put on your shoes and head out the door, for the sake of your health.
Boost Your Mood
It’s no secret that physical activity helps to elevate mood and aid relaxation, but research now suggests that exercising in nature has added benefits, particularly in relation to mental health. Researchers at the UK’s University of Essex have dubbed the concept ‘green exercise’ and found that it helps to improve mood, promote better sleep, and boost self-esteem.
If you’re looking for a way to incorporate ‘green exercise’ into your own regime, try one of the city’s walking trails. The Pipe Track is a Cape Town favourite — beginning at the junction of Kloof Nek and Tafelberg Road, the track extends along the side of Table Mountain, offering beautiful views over the Atlantic seaboard. It’s a relatively flat route, which makes it a good family stroll, plus it’s dog-friendly.
Alternatively, outdoor yoga is a great way to both connect with nature and strengthen your body. The Om Revolution hosts outdoor classes in various locations around the city, including The Company’s Garden, off the promenade at Mouille Point, and on Clifton Third Beach.
Reap the Benefits of Vitamin D
Also known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’, vitamin D has a number of benefits, with some studies even suggesting that it could offer some protection against certain diseases, including heart disease and multiple sclerosis. Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to get your fix of the vitamin, as just 15 minutes of sun a few times a week is all it takes to ensure your body’s levels are sufficient.
If you could do with a little sunshine, why not enjoy a meal outside while the weather is still good? There are a number of great options in the winelands, where you can enjoy some good food in a beautiful setting. Overture at Hidden Valley boasts wonderful views of the Helderberg mountains and serves up dishes by renowned chef Bertus Basson.
According to a study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh, patients recovering from spinal surgery reported less pain and stress and took less pain medication during their recovery when they were exposed to natural light. Research also shows that exposure to natural light may help to improve sleep quality quite considerably. If you are recovering from an illness or surgery, it can be deeply beneficial to try and add some natural light to your environment. If it’s possible, get outside every day, and if you can, try and incorporate some outdoor exercise, like a gentle walk.
A top spot to soak up some natural light, no matter the weather, is Greenhouse at Babylonstoren in Franschhoek. The glass building is beautifully located under the oak trees in the garden and offers a picnic-style menu. Take a stroll through the garden and enjoy some seasonal produce while you get your light fix.