10 Benefits of Exercising Outside for Your Health
No one really needs to be convinced of the benefits of exercise. One of the main challenges is finding the time. It seems 1 in 3 adults gets the exercise they need each week.
Another factor that may be holding you back is the idea of paying for an expensive gym membership. On average, the gym may cost around $50 per month. With so many financial pressures multiplying, it could be easy to think that exercising is a luxury and not a necessity in life.
In this article, we’re going to talk you through 10 benefits of exercising outside which means you don’t have to spend a fortune on a gym membership. Even if you already enjoy going to the gym, you will see there are some enhanced benefits from getting your work out in mother nature.
1. Stress Buster
Exercise is good for relieving stress anyway. The increased heart rate and blood flow improve the supply of oxygen throughout your body. That includes more oxygen and stimulation within the brain.
However, besides these general benefits of exercise, being outside also leads to the release of happy hormones like serotonin and endorphins that give you a sense of feeling relaxed and fulfilled.
Stress leads to the release of the stress hormone cortisol. In the short term, this can be very helpful as it stimulates greater mental alertness but when stress is sustained it can lead to reduced levels of serotonin and cause low mood and depression. Exercising outdoors is an effective combatant to reduce the effects of stress and improve your sense of calm and peace.
2. Power from the Sun
Superman is not the only one who gets his power from the sun. A natural part of being human and living on this planet means that we too derive great benefit from the sun. Of course, we might be concerned about UV rays and skin cancer, etc; these concerns can overshadow the positive effects the sun has on our health.
It’s amazing that as little as 15 minutes of exposure to the sun can trigger a release of all the vitamin D we need for that day. This ‘sun vitamin’ is important in maintaining bone strength. Of course, within the bones are many other important chemical processes vital to good health.
Vitamin D has also been associated with more effective weight loss because it’s thought to help suppress appetite. So getting out in the sun and exercising is a win-win by increasing your calorie burn and reducing your desire to eat. Both these effects can help you achieve the calorie deficit you need to lose weight.
3. Exercise More Travel Less
The outdoors is one of the most convenient places to exercise. Within minutes, you can be outside and getting the benefits of your exercise. In contrast, going to the gym may mean traveling some distance, spending time in traffic, and growing your carbon footprint.
When you exercise outside, the time you save traveling to the gym can be diverted to your workout. This means you’re getting more exercise and benefit from the time you have available. Our lives are so full and busy that any strategy to save time is a worthwhile endeavor.
4. Improved Mood
There are psychological benefits from being outside that cannot be fully achieved when exercising indoors. The freedom of being outside and not being constrained by four walls has a positive impact on our mood. The sights and sounds of nature are uplifting and stimulate a positive mood change within our brains.
Depending on our routine of life, being couped up in traffic, public transport, or stuck in a small office space we can feel more like battery chickens than human beings. Exercising in the great outdoors is liberating and mood-lifting.
An improved mood will have a positive impact on the relationships you have with others. That includes your family, loved ones, friends, and of course your work colleagues.
5. Better Sleep
In the U.S, getting sufficient sleep is a big problem. More than one in 10 reports not getting sufficient sleep every single night. Poor sleep is associated with a long list of serious health problems like diabetes, depression, stroke, high blood pressure, and so the list goes on.
There are all sorts of reasons why we may struggle to get a good night’s sleep. Yet one of the reasons may be related to our lack of natural daylight. Daylight affects our production of melatonin which is a sleep triggering hormone.
Exercising outside will help our internal body clock better regulate itself and improve our sleep. Not only will we sleep better, but the quality of our sleep will be better. If we suffer from anxiety related to sleep, then exercising outdoors will also help reduce those anxious feelings.
6. Keep Challenging Yourself
Many outdoor areas and parks, etc, provide free outdoor exercise apparatus that rely on bodyweight based exercises. Getting outside and developing your strength using calisthenics is an excellent way to keep yourself challenged and developing in your overall health.
Filling your lungs with natural air, untouched by the HVAC system in your gym or building is also much healthier and will contribute to better performance during exercise. That means being able to challenge your real limits and develop your athletic performance to its full potential.
7. Train in a Group
It’s true you can work out in a gym hall with 50 other people on fixed bicycles, but maybe you don’t know the majority of those people. How much more fun to train with your real friends in a group as and when you want to.
Activities like cycling together, rambling, hiking, and any other outdoor activity you can think of are so much more fun when you can do it with a group of genuine friends. Exercising outside like this is also very inclusive and can do much to help families be closer to each other. After all, it’s rare to see a whole family working out in the gym together.
8. Go Green Boost Self Esteem
A multi-study analysis of research into the effects that greenery and being outside have on on our esteem indicated that there was a statistically significant improvement in self-esteem after spending time outdoors. Interestingly, this research indicated more pronounced effects on the young.
That means that outdoor walks are not just for the elderly but young people benefit from being outside while exercising. One of the great things about this type of exercise is that it crosses age boundaries.
The best exercise you could ever possibly do is the exercise that you will keep doing. That’s the key to exercise and health. It has to be sustainable.
A flash in the pan run at the gym will have no long term benefit. It’s what you do on a regular basis that will make all the difference. A weekly workout schedule that is realistic and sustainable will serve you for a lifetime.
Taking your workout outdoors is sustainable because it is convenient, rewarding and its benefits go way beyond the physical and includes mental health. A positive cycle of exercise and reward can be easily achieved, which will further motivate you to keep at it.
10. Low Investment
To say that exercising outdoors is free would be a little inaccurate and misleading. In principle it is free, but at the same time, you still need some basic sports equipment that is appropriate. For example, an absolute minimum is a quality pair of running trainers that fit your feet well.
You’re going to be wearing them a lot so don’t be cheap. Still, overall, this is a very low investment when compared to monthly gym fees and other sports-related costs. This means you can spend your money on the nutrition you need to support your athletic development and overall wellbeing.
Exercising Outside – An Open Door of Opportunity
By now you may have twitchy feet drawing you to the outside so you can give this a go. There is no doubt exercising outside has a brilliant effect on your fitness, physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. It is no exaggeration to say that it is a basic human need.
Through this article, a door of opportunity has opened to you. Don’t let the enthusiasm pass. Get your shoes on and go outdoors—you will see what a difference this can make to your life.
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