Are you in a slump lately with your exercise routine? Do you feel a monotony of the same-old, same-old every time you step into the gym? Never fear, because Mother Earth has the perfect solution – take your workout into the great outdoors!
If you are tired of the same treadmill or elliptical workout, or your yoga studio is feeling a bit crowded lately, consider moving your regimen into nature for myriad benefits. Exercising outdoors might be exactly what your body needs. And not just because of the change of scenery. Working out in nature actually has many amazing health benefits that most of us aren’t even aware of!
Exercising outside promotes general well-being and makes you happier and less anxious – how much more convincing do you need?
First of all, fresh air has more oxygen than circulating indoor air (such as the air that you would be breathing in a gym). Having access to more oxygen fires up your muscles and improves your metabolism. Another incredible benefit of outdoor exercise is that working out outside allows for the absorption of more Vitamin D through exposure to natural sunlight. Vitamin D optimizes our hormones, increases bone and teeth health and promotes general well-being.
Did you know that what you look at while you exercise can change your happiness levels? Science has proven that taking in natural green views (such as leafy trees, grassy hills, green pathways, etc.) actually raises your serotonin levels and lowers cortisol (stress). That means that working out in nature can make you happier and less anxious. And not only this, but your mind will be more stimulated than during an indoor workout. Working out outside triggers primal regions of the brain and stimulates the senses much more than exercising inside a gym.
Nature trails or outdoor parks also change the way that you exercise and the degree to which you push ourselves. Studies show that outdoor runners expend more energy because of the varied terrain, which causes them to work harder and flex their ankles more. Outdoor biker riders also have to work harder than recumbent or stationary bike riders. And working out harder, plus challenging new muscles, can step up your game tremendously. The outcome: taking your workout outdoors might be the extra push you need to move beyond a current exercise plateau.
Exercising outside can do amazing things for your mental state as well. Just by getting out into nature for your workout, you can improve our focus and self-esteem. Additionally, outdoor exercise has been proven to increase feelings of well-being and lower depression in participants.
On top of all of these positive aspects of working out in nature, incorporating outdoor exercise into your life is likely to actually increase the frequency of your workouts. That’s right – you will actually exercise more often! And honestly, who wouldn’t want to change up their routine and hit nature’s gym after discovering all of these amazing benefits of outdoor exercise.
So grab your yoga mat or sneakers, slather on some sunscreen, grab a water bottle and head out to a local park, trail, lake, outdoor gym or nature preserve to get your sweat on. You won’t regret it – and you may just end up having one of the best workouts of your year.
Photo Credit: fitnesswithsynergy.com
- Gretchen Reynolds, The New York Times, “Benefits of Exercising Outdoors,” http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/21/the-benefits-of-exercising-outdoors/?_r=0
- Nicole Meighan, Greatist.Com, “Working Out Indoors Versus Outdoors,” http://greatist.com/fitness/working-out-indoors-versus-outdoors