Exercise Outdoors: 5 Reasons to Take Your Workout Outside
Your exercise time each day might be an ideal time for you to get out in the sunshine, get some vitamin D and reconnect with the natural world. Here are five compelling reasons to make you think about taking your exercise outdoors.
1. Fresh air is ridiculously invigorating. These days, most of us get to choose to stay inside. We don’t have to work in the hot sun or walk through snowy, windy storms to get to town. And that means we can go an awfully long time without ever going outdoors.
And while it’s always the same temperature in the gym, there’s just something about breathing deep, full hits of fresh air that invigorates the mind, body and soul.
You will, of course, need to be careful if the temperature outside is either dangerously cold or dangerously hot. If you live in an area where this is a concern, choose the time of day that you exercise carefully. Take your run in the early morning, for example. Or if you live in a cold climate, wait for the heat of the day and bundle up in some of the cutting edge fabrics that are now on the market to keep you from missing an outdoor workout.
If you are dealing with extreme temperatures of any kind, it might be best to keep your workout indoors, but these times of the year are typically fairly short, so it’s generally not an excuse for too many months out of the year.
2. Stay connected with nature. So many of us are in contact with concrete, asphalt, and other unnatural surfaces all day long. Use your daily workout time as a great excuse to venture out onto a dirt trail, road or path. Strive to notice new things about the natural world each time you go, even if you are always on the same trail.
You never know what you’re going to discover in the natural world. Cultivate a reverence for it and you will be hard pressed to return to those indoor workouts.
3. It’s good for you. Outdoor time has been linked to a wide variety of health benefits. Studies suggest that it increases your energy levels and helps you to stay more alert. We are learning more and more about the importance of a daily bit of natural sunlight, too, which can help fight depression.
Vitamin D, which is created naturally when sunlight acts on the skin, is important for a whole host of bodily functions. It helps to regulate calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood and is vital to the immune system. (Many doctors do recommend, however, that you apply sunblock after about 15 minutes of sun exposure.)
4. Outdoor workouts might help you stick with it. Exercise outdoors tends to be more exciting and adventurous than the treadmill, so these kinds of workouts may help you stay engaged in your exercise routine.
If your daily exercise time is also your time to escape the four walls of your home or office, for example, you might be more likely to see it as a treat that you give yourself. And when you can see your daily exercise in such a positive way, you’ll be far more likely to make sure you do your workout each day.
And that’s one of the best things you can do for your overall health. Exercise itself helps increase mental focus, tones muscles, helps improve your metabolism, helps increase your lung capacity and just may increase your life span.
5. Exercising outside gives your body fresh new challenges. When you run, jog or even walk outside, you will be asking your body and your brain to complete more complex motions than those that are performed on exercise equipment. You are also dealing with various terrain surfaces, which can provide a further mental and physical challenge and help to improve your reflexes.
Even if you’re not a runner or a jogger, you can still get a lot out of exercising outdoors. Ride a bike or participate in local outdoor sports, such as soccer or softball, for example. The most important thing is that you truly love the exercise you choose so that you will stick with it.
If you are just starting out in an exercise program, whether outdoors or indoors, make sure to talk with your doctor first and take proper health precautions. You’ll also want to drink plenty of water and pace yourself. It really won’t take long before you’ll be feeling the all of the mental and physical benefits.