Taking your workout outdoors
Exercise doesn't have to be work and you don't need to spend countless hours in the gym. Getting outside can do more than improve your overall health.
Here are 6 reasons to get fit outdoors:
1. Time spent outside is associated with improved health.
Exercising outdoors inspires greater commitment to your goals and reduces cortisol, a hormone related to stress. Direct sunlight, known to affect mood, is also a huge factor.
2. You’ll have more fun.
From my personal experience, I have found exercising outside causes me to feel energized and revitalized. There's something about running while the sun is setting, seeing Molli happy, and appreciating nature that brings total peace to my life. Sometimes I can't help but smile as I run.
3. It could help you build a healthy habit.
After a short amount of time exercising outdoors is something you begin to crave. Whether it's walking, running, biking, or hiking those feel good endorphins cannot be replicated in the gym. To keep yourself going back for more set a goal to run a 5K, 10K, or half marathon in the Fall. Training all summer will keep you motivated and becoming a regular runner outdoors will change your life in addition to making you a happier person overall. There are many apps to get you started and online resources for runners at all levels.
4. You’ll feel more relaxed.
A 2014 study associated outdoor exercise with better stress management. “Going outside is a reset of sorts, it quiets the brain and dampens the stress response. This is because our brains are wired to be around trees and dirt and sand and running water and to perceive and breathe fresh air.” I don't go hiking nearly as much as I'd like but when I do all of life's stresses seem to escape me. I'm able to live in the moment and immerse myself in nature. Hiking is more than exercise, it creates memories. I never keep track of time or mileage, I simply shut the world off and enjoy the peace around me.
5. You could quite possibly get a better workout.
I've ran inside, outside, uphill on a treadmill and trail. Believe me, you will get a MUCH better workout outdoors. It requires more energy because you are propelling your own body plus the terrain, wind, and elevation gain are all unpredictable. I can run 3 miles on a treadmill and never feel it in my legs, if I go run outside? Hello...calves and glutes!
6. It could help improve your self-esteem.
A 2010 study examined body image implications in relation to time spent in nature and found those who spend more time outside—away from mirrors, media and other stimuli that might make you feel self-conscious about your appearance—might help increase confidence by silencing negative thoughts. Bottom line, put the phone down and go experience life instead of viewing the lives of others on a small screen.