Exercising is great and it has a lot of mental and physical health benefits. In fact, studies show that exercising in a natural, outdoor setting can decrease feelings of anxiety and stress, alleviate depressive symptoms and increase your physical strength. Here are 5 reasons why you should start exercising outside.
The changing surface is a great workout tool
Not only is taking your exercise routine to the park or the beach quite often more fun and motivational than working out in an indoor gym, it actually makes you stronger, more flexible and improves your sense of balance. When you run outside the surface is constantly slightly changing, which means your body has to continually make small adjustments to adapt to the surface you’re running on. These constant slight adjustments make your bones and muscles stronger and your tendons more flexible. It also challenges your vestibular sense, giving you a better sense of balance. Running outside also provides challenges such as wind resistance and constant slight inclines or declines, which makes your run more challenging and thus more effective than on a treadmill.
Change it up!
Trudging around in the same gym day in and day out can get a bit old, so head outside and explore your neighbourhood. Exercising outside decreases the risk of getting bored with your routine as you can always take a different route, check out a new park or change your plans if you suddenly run by a new path that looks interesting. It also provides a big variety of activities depending on where you live. Some places are great for bike riding or hiking while others are good for sports such as surfing or stand up paddling. It’s never too late to pick up a new hobby, so why not try kayaking or rock climbing next time?
Sometimes it takes a bit of effort to get out the door and go workout, but often the prospect of joining a friend for either a scheduled workout or an impromptu rendezvous to work up a sweat is an extra motivator. An early morning run in the park with a friend before work, going for a leisurely stroll with a colleague during lunch, or joining a group of friends for a game of ultimate in the park are all great ways to exercise while tending to the positive relationships in your life. While exercise has a proven positive effect on your physical health, it also has positive mental health benefits such as increasing endorfins and decreasing feelings of loneliness and anxiety, leaving you feeling energised and happy. Furthermore, studies show that working out with a partner actually makes you perform better and harder in your workout.
Soak up the sun
Tie your shoe laces and go for a run, bike ride or a hike on a sunny day and soak up those rays for a healthy boost of vitamin D. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin responsible for maintaining strong bones and muscles and overall health. It can be obtained from foods such as fatty fish and from sunlight and thus exercising in the sun is a great way to keep your levels up, but make sure you are sun smart by avoiding exercising in direct sun during the hottest hours of the day.
The colour green
Everyone who spends time in nature can testify to its positive effect on stress. A study by Exeter University showed that exercise done outside decreases feelings of sadness, anger and depression and leaves you feeling more energetic and happy afterwards. In other words, moving your exercise routine outdoors may just give a better return on your investment than hitting the gym.
Exercising outside has great physical and mental health benefits. It’s easy, it’s always available, it’s cheap, it’s good for you and the possibilities are endless.