When you live in a concrete jungle, the beauty of nature isn’t something you get the chance to experience often. Sure, there’s a tree on every street corner, and your office is decorated with indoor plants, but if you don’t spend time outside, it might be affecting your quality of life. Lie in your garden for an afternoon and recharge, or reconnect with the earth by hiking up a hill.

Growing up, mama always used to nag my brothers and I to go play outside. We just assumed it was because she needed a moment clean the mess we’d caused baking in the kitchen or playing Monopoly in the den. Though a large part of that was true, the old duck appreciated the importance of being outside. When you trade your office for the great outdoors, your body makes the most of the fresh air, sunshine, and the tremendous amount of space you’ve given for it to move. It only takes mere moments before you begin to feel better.

If you have little ones, you need to make sure they play outside. The physical exercise will keep their muscles growing healthy and strong. Your child’s curiosity will be peaked in a healthy garden buzzing with bees, birds and bugs, while the environment gets to work developing a stronger autoimmune system and a resistance to allergies.

Our evolutionary predators all lived very active lives. If they weren’t hunting or gathering, they were migrating to the next camp to do much of the same. Being chained to a desk all day is a culture that is making many of us sick. If, for anything else, you need to get your outdoor fix to remind yourself that life exists outside of work – no job is worth ruining your health over. Take a short walk during your lunch break, or even start/end your day with yoga in the park. The few moments of sun you get will immediately boost your Vitamin D and E. Deficiency in both those vital vitamins can cause disorientation, visual problems, muscle weakness, depression, and anxiety.

So what do you do and where do you go if you want to get out more but live in the big smoke? That’s easy. Just go outside; there are hundreds of public parks and gardens for you to enjoy.

If you would feel more comfortable with a plan, have a look on the web for weekly park runs and hiking groups. Joburg is bursting with book clubs that meet at Zoo Lake, or cycling crews that would happily take you. My top 3 picks of outdoor activities (other than going for a run around the neighbourhood or doing yoga in the garden) are:

If you are yet to picnic here, you’re missing out. This treasure trove has private gardens hidden everywhere. Impress a first date by surrounding them in rose bushes, or get lost in a good book, sitting next to a historic relic. The Emmarentia Dam is a popular place for joggers, cyclists and dog walkers, so you can surely find a few running mates to train with.

Strawberry picking has become a popular past time. Not only are you literally getting your choice of the fruit straight from the source (and looking cute for Instagram while doing it) but you’re spending a good amount of time in the sun. This farm is only open over the weekend, and it can get extremely busy. Pack a little patience in with your sunscreen and don’t forget to carry water with you.

When I was five years old, I remember being woken up at the crack of dawn, driving for what felt like an eternity, before sluggishly filling into the entrance of this World Heritage Site. Back then, the Cradle of Humankind was just the awe-inspiring cave tour we got to go on. Now, the Nirox Foundation Sculpture Park provides an opportunity for visitors to really take in the gravitas that is the site. On most weekends, there is a live music session you can attend if you’re not marveling at the history of humankind.

 

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