First of all, it is import to point out that exercise provides many mental and physical health benefits. Boosting happiness, reducing the risk of heart disease and inducing better sleep are just a few of many.
But what if a simple change of location could increase those benefits?
Turns out, it can.
When most people think of exercise, they typically think of hitting the indoor gym. While that may seem like the only practical option during the cold, snowy winter months, or during the blistering heat of summer, there is overwhelming evidence that exercising outdoors, otherwise referred to as "green exercise", is better for you - both physically and mentally.
Outdoor exercise, combines two health-enhancing activities: moving your body and getting outdoors. And the results are exceptional. If you’re looking to enhance your mood, save money and avoid the time and trouble of getting to the gym, look no further than the great outdoors.
Here are five benefits of getting your sweat on with Mother Nature.
Boost your immune system and improve your mood
Outdoor exercise provides a mental health boost beyond that of indoor gyms. Moving outdoors has been shown to reduce anger and depression and improve mood (Barton and Pretty, 2010). Exposure to sunlight enhances vitamin D production, which may be partially responsible for this mood-enhancing effect . Being in nature is also a great way to give your immune system a boost. Your body behaves differently when you’re in nature, and acts as a natural stimulus for your body to protect itself from disease. You don’t have to run a marathon or crush an outdoor boot camp to reap the benefit. Even low-intensity activities, like walking or gardening, will do. Try swapping the gym one day a week for a ful body workout in the park and start reaping the rewards.
Enhanced Self-esteem and boost of Vitamin D
Research shows that as little as five minutes of outdoor exercise can improve self-esteem (Barton and Pretty, 2010). Any outdoor location will do, but being near greenery or water enhances this effect. A regular dose of outdoor activity can help boost the already powerful esteem-enhancing effect of exercise. In addition every time the sun is shining and hitting exposed skin on your body, it’s triggering your body to produce more Vitamin D. Which is key to healthy bones and skin.
Spend less and burn more calories
People often cite cost as one of the biggest factors prohibiting regular exercise. The outdoor environment provides a low-cost solution for exercise enthusiasts and trainers alike. While high gym or studio prices can act as a barrier to exercise, outdoor venues such as low-traffic neighbourhood streets and local parks offer free space for physical activity. In addition, performing the same exercise outdoors is better for you than doing the same activity indoors. Consider that working out in a climate-controlled environment does not supply the same stress to your body as working out in an environment that has high (or cold) temperatures and changing terrain which affects gait.
Ease of Access
Lack of time is another common barrier to exercise. Navigating traffic and crowded locker rooms adds additional time needed to keep fit. Taking advantage of the great outdoors can reduce these time constraints. Nearby parks offer ideal venues for resistance training, boot camps and yoga classes. Many outdoor areas include benches, trees, inclined roads and even designated exercise equipment, allowing for a variety of resistance-training exercises.
You'll workout longer and harder
Working out indoors can lead to boredom and fatigue. Just think of running on a treadmill staring at the same point on the wall for miles at a time. By contrast, when you decide to exercise outdoors, you are seeing new people, new scenery and generally enjoying your time more. That means you are “nudged” to work out longer.
Get Out and WorkOut!
Don’t let the prospect of outdoor activity scare you. If you’re new to exercise or just getting back into it, start with short exercise sessions and lighter intensity. Even five minutes will do. With our Fitness Travel Pack by Fitness Freedom you will be able to get a full body workout anytime, anywhere!
All you have to do is get out and go!