I think I have found the perfect sporting event for Guardian readers - it involves a moderate, but achievable, amount of physical activity while simultaneously improving the environment. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Tree-Athlon. Taking place in Battersea Park, London, on September 23, and in Cannock Chase Forest in the Midlands on October 14, the event - organised by the charity Trees For Cities - involves a 5km run, making a 'tree wish' and planting some tree seeds. Thankfully for those of us not possessing green fingers, only the run counts towards your time in this rather tenuously named tri-event. But the real winner is whoever raises the most sponsorship money: they get a whole woodland named after them. Registration costs £17 and includes an event T-shirt, a running bib printed with your 'tree wish' and a handful of seeds to plant. For more information and to register, visit tree-athlon.org.
Serious swimmers rarely get in the pool without an arsenal of training tools to get more out of their session -among the most commonly used are hand paddles, which increase the surface area of resistance against the water (rather like webbed feet) and make the muscles work harder. But if your stroke is less than perfect, rigid paddles can put extra stress on shoulders, elbows and wrists. You could go without, but if you want to look like a pro without increasing your risk of injury, Zoggs has introduced a super-flexible paddle for 'recreational' swimmers. Originally designed for kids (whose joints are much more vulnerable), the Flexi-Paddle is bendy enough to prevent joint strain and contoured to improve stroke technique. Flexi-Paddles cost £9, and come in two sizes, with adjustable strapping to alter the levels of grip and resistance. For stockists, visit zoggs.com.
Let's get physical
Just as some of us view the glass half full, some half empty, new research, published in Perspectives On Psychological Science, suggests that our perception of the physical environment differs, too. But it's not optimism or pessimism that dictates our view - it's fitness, fear and fatigue levels. In the study, subjects of varying physical fitness had to assess the steepness of a hill (from the top and bottom) before and after doing a demanding run, carrying a heavy backpack and standing on a skateboard (not all at the same time). Results showed that people perceived the hill to be much steeper when they were less fit, or when fatigued or scared. These findings are backed up by another study from Texas A&M University, which found that fitter people coped better with scary physical tasks such as rope climbing and white-water rafting. Presumably, scoring ticks in the fitness and fatigue categories overrides the fear factor and their sports bottles always appear half full.