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The health benefits of being outside are well known: being outdoors makes us fitter, happier and healthier. Despite this, with fewer people working outside and more of us driving, most of us are spending less time outside than we could. It is not just adults who are missing out - according to a recent study by the National Trust, the average child today plays outside for less than an hour a day. 

At Gripsure we are passionate about people making the most of their gardens all year round. So, how can you make 2017 the year when you spend more time enjoying the benefits of outdoor living? The answer could be to think differently and step outside to do some of the things that you usually do indoors.

Make the garden your gym

Gym memberships soar in January, as many of us make New Year’s resolutions to get fit and lose weight. As the weeks go on, more and more people find reasons not to go and end up paying expensive monthly fees without getting any of the benefits. Why not make your garden your gym? Using some of the things already in your garden – a bench and a wall plus a few bits of inexpensive kit, like a skipping boat and some weights – you could create your own workout. If you need ideas there are many exercise apps out there for anything from yoga to circuits. Fitness magazine also has a great 30-minute outdoor workout programme. To stay safe, make sure you are on a non slip surface, especially if you’re doing any aerobic exercises.

Dine alfresco

We don’t think alfresco eating should be limited to the occasional summer barbecue. Even on a chilly day, it can feel warm in the sunshine and eating outside can really lift the spirits. From wood-fired brick pizza ovens to built-in gas grills, there are more and more options to help you be as adventurous as you like with outdoor cooking. Just taking your sandwich outside at lunchtime and spending a few minutes enjoying your surroundings can turn a mundane meal into something special.

Help your children play outside

The average child spends half the amount of time their parents spent playing out. There are many benefits of playing outside – from physical fitness to connecting with nature. Of course there are advantages for parents too – messy play is much less stressful outside than in the front room and all that fresh air and exercise tends to make for a better night’s sleep.

While it is less common now for children to play in the streets, gardens give children the experience of being outdoors while you keep an eye on them. Kids @ Homebase has some great ideas for low cost but high fun outdoor activities.

Make sure your children understand if there are any unsafe areas of the garden, such as sheds, that they should keep away from. Educate them about poisonous plants. Wet, slippery decking often means that gardens are off limits for the winter months. Installing anti slip decking is a great way of ensuring your children can tear around in the garden whatever the weather. Gripsure decking has achieved the highest non slip ratings and is now available from Homebase.

Relax

Your garden should be a haven for you to relax and unwind. You might even want to set aside a corner of your garden specifically for this purpose. If you have the space, you could install a summer house as a quiet haven away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Even if your garden is small, think about how you can make it as peaceful and relaxing as possible, perhaps using a trellis to provide some privacy or planting some beautiful pots of scented flowers. The garden is the perfect place for many of the relaxing activities that are becoming increasingly popular, such as meditation, yoga or mindful colouring. 

However busy you are, finding those moments when you can take yourself outside to enjoy the garden will help make you happier and healthier in 2017.