The health benefits of physical fitness are undeniable – but who says you have to be inside a gym to reap those benefits? When most people think about getting fit, they think about grinding it out on a treadmill, or pumping iron in the weights room. While exercising at a gym is a fantastic way to get in shape and stay motivated, there are options for people who prefer being outside. With the weather warming up and motivation to get outside at an all-time high, there are some great reasons to take your workout outside. Here are a few to get you started:
There’re no membership fees to the great outdoors, making it a great way to save money. If you need to manage your expenses and a gym membership seems out of reach, exercising outdoors might be a worthwhile alternative.
Research has shown that those walking or running outside burn 10% more calories than when they run inside on a treadmill at the same speed. This is due to a number of factors, including greater wind resistance outside, more challenging terrain to deal with, and your body having to adapt to a constantly changing environment. Nothing beats the complex terrain of exercising outside – a treadmill just can’t replicate it. You’ll work harder when exercising outdoors, and will reap the benefits of greater calorie burn.
With so much to see and enjoy outside, you’re likely to find the time going quicker than if you’re watching the clock at the gym. It’s easy to lose track of time and find yourself walking or running further than you intended. You can hit stop on a treadmill, but if you’ve walked or run a few kilometres, you have to re-trace your steps to come back. And when you’re caught up in your environment, you’re less focussed on how tired you are or how much your muscles ache, so you tend to work at a higher level of intensity.
Too often we spend most of our time inside in front of screens, so it’s good to disconnect and be in nature. You’ll feel happier and more alive if you exercise outdoors. And plenty of studies have found that stress levels are lowered during outdoor activities.
Being outside has been shown to help clear your mind and help you concentrate. Being in nature will also give your immune system a boost and help protect itself from disease.
The outdoors is available whenever you need it – and it’s usually only a few steps away. You won’t need to use precious time on travel – and you can work out even when the gym is closed. You can fit fitness in whenever you have a chance – even a daily 20-minute intense outdoor workout is enough to give you great health benefits.
While too much exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays can increase your chances of skin cancer, it’s important to get some sunlight on your skin. Vitamin D from the sun is important for metabolic function and bone health, and can help you sleep better, increase endorphin production and improve your immune function. All good reasons to get out and exercise where you can soak up the benefits of the sunshine. If you’re going to be exercising outside for a long time however, or during the hottest parts of the day, make sure you wear sunscreen and a hat.
Various studies have shown that outdoor exercise increases participants’ mood, energy, feelings of revitalisation and positive engagement, while decreasing levels of anger, depression, confusion and tension. You’ll feel energised and full of enthusiasm after an outdoor workout, and will experience a higher level of endorphin production.
Exercising in your local areas is a great way to meet your neighbours and become more connected with your community. Too many people nowadays are isolated from their neighbours and local community. Get out from your online social network and enhance your real-life social network – it has great benefits for your mental health as well as your physical health.
It’s important to set an example for your kids of what a healthy lifestyle looks like. You can go for a walk, run or bike ride as a family, shoot some hoops or kick a ball around at the local park. You’ll work up a sweat chasing your kids around, and you’ll not only set them up to become lifetime exercisers, but you’ll also be able to teach them that physical activity can be fun.
For more reasons why every kid should be physically active, click here.
With an influx of people hitting the gym come spring, it can get a little crowded. If you’d prefer more breathing room and space, moving your workout outside the gym can give you as much green space as you need to do what you like.
The recycled air inside a gym can become stale and polluted over time. Working out in the fresh air will give you more energy and help you feel better.
Everyone gets bored doing the same old thing over and over – unpredictability is good for the spirit and the mind. When you exercise outside, the weather and the surroundings are never quite the same, and you can change up your place of exercise every day if you like to keep it interesting.
Exercising outdoors can boost your energy, your mood and your wellbeing – and that’s just to start with. When exercising outdoors, keep these tips in mind: