Five Reasons to Exercise Outdoors

Exercise outdoors

For avid exercisers, the gym can be a place of comfort, solitude and routine. On the other hand, for those just starting out, it can be a source of inspiration, providing motivation from those around them and due to the fantastic assortment of equipment – with a well-equipped facility, you’ll truly never get bored.

But now that we’re nearing the hottest point of the year, it’s high time that you re-evaluate the benefits of taking your exercise outdoors. Read on to learn about some of the ways hitting the pavement, park or your backyard can breathe new life into your routine, inspiring you to push yourself even further.

New Environment Boosts Commitment

According to Araceli De Leon, M.S., an American Council on Exercise certified health coach and certified personal trainer, the stimulation that comes with being in nature can push you to go beyond what you thought you could do. “Exercising outdoors helps with concentration as you are continually made aware of your surroundings rather than being stuck on a treadmill or inside a gym,” she says.

If you’re unsure about whether getting sweaty outside is for you, know you’re not alone – but that the benefits certainly outweigh that initial “should I or shouldn’t I” feeling.

“Trying new things can induce feelings of stress and anxiety, so your feelings are valid in that it can feel silly to some,” says De Leon. If these feelings persist or become an obstacle, think about why you feel the way you feel, and what would be helpful in reducing those feelings and increasing your confidence, she advises.

Endless Options

It’s called the open road for a reason! And no matter your preferred type of exercise, you can tackle it in the great outdoors.

But what if you didn’t grow up running track and loathe the thought of a 5K, or perhaps feel a bit silly doing burpees in front of passersby? Work your way up to a full-on exercise session and understand that you may need to try a few different modalities before you find something that sticks – just like when you first hit the gym.

“Jumping rope is another way to increase your heart rate and get an excellent cardio workout in a short time,” suggests De Leon. “Cycling is quite popular for those who want to do cardio without the running.”

Other suggestions: high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, utilizing short consecutive sets of body weight exercises, and hiking, if the elevation, distance and duration are enough to get you sweating.

Mental Health Benefits to Exercise Outdoors in Nature

It’s well documented that exposure to nature can boost your mood and reduce symptoms of depression, in as little as 15 minutes. (Have you heard the saying “touch grass”?)  “For some, outdoor exercise can help with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), depression and anxiety, due to the increase in serotonin from the sun,” says De Leon. “Additionally, exposure to healthy doses of sunlight may offer sufficient vitamin D levels, which can have a positive effect on your bones, immune system and overall health.”

Improve Your Sleep

If you’ve been tossing and turning every night since you turned 40, then this benefit will resonate with you: being in natural light outdoors can help regulate your circadian rhythm – your “inner clock” – so that you start sawing logs sooner, and for longer.

And it’s especially effective if timed correctly. Follow this advice from De Leon: “Getting outside in the morning between sunrise and noon can help balance your sleep and energy levels.”

It’s Free

Remember the days of the pandemic, when if you came across another person on a stroll outside, you would cross the road out of social propriety and health standards? Thankfully, those days are behind us, which means you can take full advantage of public green spaces and community sidewalks till your heart’s content. (Of course, you should still be mindful of others using the area – but we don’t have to tell you that, do we?)

There’s also the cost savings when compared with shelling out cash on a monthly basis.
“For some, paying for a gym membership creates a barrier to exercise, whether due to affordability or accessibility,” notes De Leon. “Getting outdoors can be a free and healthy way to get exercise and save money on a gym membership.”



rachel debling

By : Rachel Debling

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