Monday Motivation with Derval O’Rourke: Outdoor exercise and superfood salad

Monday Motivation with Derval O’Rourke: Outdoor exercise and superfood salad

Exercising outdoors can feel less strenuous than doing the same workout indoors. This also helps you to do more, which is a plus!

As the weather is starting to improve, I’m trying to get outdoors for my exercise a little bit more. This week I am going to chat about the benefits of exercising outdoors and give some examples of ways to incorporate outdoor exercise into your routine easily. For this week’s recipe, I have chosen my Superfood Salad. It’s amazing any time of the year, but especially in Spring/Summer.

I have lots of challenges on and for the upcoming one — April 12 — I am incorporating an outdoor element. I think everyone is feeling a bit fed up of being at home, and doing home workouts — it can be tedious, so mixing it up with some fresh air can really help.

Outdoor exercise has mental benefits as well as many benefits for our physical well-being. Studies have shown that exercising outdoors can lower your heart rate and blood pressure. If you have a FitBit or similar device, why not compare your heart rate from a workout indoors to one outdoors and see if there is a difference. As a result of this, exercising outdoors can feel less strenuous than doing the same workout indoors. This also helps you to do more, which is a plus!

Exercising in the fresh air helps alleviate insomnia. I know many people who are finding it tough to get a good night’s sleep these days, I’m definitely one of those people. My strategy for this is to increase my outdoor time with a walk and this definitely helps me drift off.

When we’re lucky enough to get a bit of sunshine, exercising outdoors is a great way to enjoy the weather and get some much needed Vitamin D. Fresh air and natural light give us more energy — both for the body and mind. A walk before or during the workday is a great way to boost productivity. Because of the sunlight, hydration while exercising outdoors is vital.

Mixing things up by getting outside will also help you to mix up your usual routine. You might decide your outdoor exercise will be a walk or jog, or you could do your usual indoor workouts outdoors. This is particularly easy when doing bodyweight workouts. Some people think they need weights to have an effective workout, but bodyweight sessions are amazing for helping with coordination and balance. Keep it simple and you can’t go wrong.

Outdoor exercise can be a chance to meet up with a friend or family member during a time where we’re all craving that human interaction. A socially distanced walk, jog or workout with a friend is a brilliant way to catch up while moving your body.

Last but not least, outdoor exercise is guaranteed to improve your mood. Whether you need that mood boost at the start of your day, in the middle to break it up or afterwards to unwind — it will help at any time of the day. I love getting out on the weekends, I feel very fortunate to have lots of open space around my house perfect for getting some active fresh air.

Fitness Tip: 

Start Small: bring a mat or towel outside and do a circuit of:

  • 30 seconds jogging on the spot
  • 10 squats
  • 30 second plank
  • 10 lunges (5 each side) & have a nice stretch.
  • Repeat the above as many times as you can.

Wellness Tip: Commit to getting outside 3 days this week. Even if that’s just having a cuppa outside for 15 minutes in the morning (with no phone/screen with you). You’ll begin to reap the benefits.

Superfood Salad

This recipe is full of goodness. I love having it as a mid-week work lunch because it’s such a treat! It’s pretty versatile meaning you can substitute the nuts, fruit and veg for your favourites!

Serves: 1


  • A small bowl of cooked quinoa (you can buy packets of cooked quinoa in many supermarkets)
  • 1 tbsp toasted nuts eg pine nuts, cashews or flaked almonds
  • 1 piece of fruit prepared such as a handful of blueberries
  • A handful of leaves or raw vegetables such as baby spinach
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Handful of fresh herbs such as basil or mint
  • 2 tbsp mixed seeds such as pumpkin and sunflower
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp coconut yoghurt to garnish


Place all of the ingredients in a serving bowl, except for the yogurt and mix well.

Garnish with the yoghurt and serve.


Carolanne Mangles

Based in London, Carolanne Mangles is a senior editor at The Flex Diet. Previously she has worked for The Tab and The Huffington Post. Carolanne is a graduate of Nutrition at the University of Leeds.

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