Exercising outside isn’t just about a change in scenery – there’s proof that working out in the great outdoors is even better for your health than hitting the gym.
It’s an unfortunate fact that less than a quarter of adults in America get as much time working out as they should each week according to the CDC. That means that simply getting up and working out already puts you ahead of the game. However getting outside to get moving offers even more benefits than just hitting the gym or working out in your living room.
Five benefits of exercising outdoors
How can working out in the great outdoors benefit you? Here are five ways:
The mind-body connection
Working out isn’t just about getting your body fit and toned, it’s also about improving brainpower and boosting your emotional health. The body and the mind are intimately connected and it’s important to create an environment in which both are able to grow and develop. Health is not just about the physical self, the mental and emotional selves are equally important.
Outdoor workouts are a proven way to improve the mind-body connection.
Being outside is shown to offer a wide range of emotional benefits, including decreasing anger, tension and even depression. The outdoors provides a boost in terms of energy and mental revitalization. The bottom line is that you’ll simply enjoy your workouts more when you do them outside versus when you do them behind closed doors, not matter how pleasant the indoor environment might be.
Staying on course is by far the biggest challenge with getting fit. It’s easy to get frustrated or become apathetic about the process. In order to combat these serious roadblocks on your wellness journey, try stepping out your front door!
Being outside is a great way to improve your resilience when working out becomes a struggle. If you enjoy your surroundings and experience positive emotional boosts from your workouts, then you’re more likely to stick with them.
The other way that working out outside can really help you stay on course is that it offers a change up in your routine. Instead of doing the same workouts over and over again, getting outside will offer you the chance to freshen things up and get you excited again. If you’ve been heading into the same gym over and over again and you’re feeling like you’re losing interest, try mixing it up by heading outdoors. This trick also works if you’ve been working out at home – just take it out to the backyard and you’ll be astonished at how much it can re-invigorate your enthusiasm.
Your body needs Vitamin D in order to be healthy. This essential vitamin supports both metabolic function and bone health. The purest form of this vitamin is something that you can only get from feeling the sunshine on your skin. Your body produces Vitamin D3 when you’re exposed to the wide spectrum of light that comes from the sun.
The other benefit of sunshine – mood improvement. Simply stepping outside and feeling the sunshine on your face offers you an instant boost in mood as it increases the production of endorphins. Who doesn’t love that?
It is important to remember that skin cancer is a serious threat to your health. While it’s essential for health and wellness that you spend a good deal of time outside, it’s also important that you protect your skin against cancer by wearing a good sunscreen when you’re outside working out.
Not only does working out in the sunshine offer you incredible health benefits, it also saves you some cash. The great outdoors is FREE! While you’ll want to invest in some good sunscreen, comfortable footwear and weather appropriate workout clothes, it’s nonetheless much cheaper than joining a gym. While it’s impossible to put a price on the benefits of a great workout, it’s still an important factor to consider.
Want to keep your gym membership for the winter months when the weather doesn’t beckon you to the outdoors? Instead of cancelling your membership outright, try requesting a hiatus so that you can avoid having to pay initiation fees or increased rates when you return in the fall. Most gyms are willing to work with their members in order to keep that business long term.
If you still feel that you need guidance on your workout, don’t fear – you can stream workout videos like those available through 100’s to Happiness right on your phone while you’re outside!
When you’re at the gym, it can feel like everyone is looking at you. Even though you might be working out in a supportive environment, the fact remains that people are people and human nature is to compare them with one another, even if it’s unintentional.
Outside is a completely different story. When you workout in the great outdoors you’ll get an even bigger boost to your confidence than when you’re working out inside. The birds and the flowers don’t care that you’re making a silly face or that your workout clothes aren’t super high fashion. There’s a freedom not only to push yourself to your limits, but also to take it easier and just keep going when you’re working out.
The solitude of working out in the outdoors offers a freedom and flexibility that’s just not possible inside when you’re surrounded by others. It allows you to be yourself and to figure out what works for you, free from pressure.
Getting started with outdoor workouts
The simplest way to start is to step outside into your backyard, where you’ll feel comfortable and secure. If you don’t have an outdoor space of your own, stake out a local park or green space to work out. Universities often have wonderful outdoor spaces, or try the local botanical gardens or greenway. If you are keeping that gym membership, check to see if they have a space that’s conducive to your workout.
Pilates is a perfect way to workout outdoors! Mat workouts get a beautiful boost when done in the open air. You don’t have to change anything about your routine, except that you might find yourself slowing down as you enjoy the elements.
Long summer days mean that you can even workout after dinner or before work and still enjoy the sunshine. That daily exercise can be a challenge, but you’ll find that by taking your workouts outside, you get even more benefits and have an easier time sticking with it.