In the world of health research, exercise is one of the few things that all of the experts agree on. Regular physical activity improves heart health, reduces your risk of cancer, keeps your bones healthy and improves your mental health.
But what about where you exercise?
Bottom line… any exercise is good exercise. However, there is growing research to suggest that exercising outdoors and in nature delivers even more positive mental and physical health impacts.
By combining two health-enhancing activities – moving your body and getting outdoors – outdoor exercise delivers exceptional results: enhancing your mood, saving you money and time and giving your workouts new social interaction.
Studies show that exercising in natural environments can have positive effects on self-esteem and improve your mood, with the effect particularly noticeable in people with mental illnesses like depression and anxiety.
“There is some interesting evidence that running on a treadmill does not give the same mental health benefits as running outside, and it may not give you the same happy hormone boost as running outside,”Dr Sandro Demaio
Top 6 Benefits of Outdoor Exercise
1. Free and available to all
The costs associated with gym membership or personal training are some of the biggest barriers to regular training. Utilising an outdoor environment provides a low-cost solution for both exercise enthusiasts and trainers, giving you access to different training options.
2. Always Open
It takes time to get ready, jump in the car and drive to your gym. Not to mention traffic and trying to find a carpark! Imagine the time you’d save as well as the additional fitness benefits when you can walk, jog or ride to your closest outdoor fitness facility?
3. Stress reduction and improved mindset
Outdoor exercise contributes to decreased tension, confusion, and anger. Even looking at beautiful green spaces can decrease the stress-related hormones cortisol and adrenalin.
4. Improved mental focus and commitment to exercise
The variability of outdoor environments; weather, temperature and terrain are all factors out of our control. These subtle changes require deliberate mental focus to navigate, allowing us to let go of our daily stressors and experience life in the present moment. The visual immersion in the natural environment doesn’t feel as taxing as being “stuck” in a gym, so we can train harder and longer without additional effort.
5. Increased levels of Vitamin D
Exercising outdoors (while staying sun safe) is also a great way to get your vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin”, which you need for healthy bones, muscles and other vital body functions. It’s also a great mood booster!
6. Incorporates different muscle groups
Functional fitness and varied movement styles through a fitness circuit allow you to activate different muscle groups, increasing the intensity of the workout and improving balance, coordination and reaction-time. The changeability of activity helps to avoid repetitive strain injuries and joint pain usually associated with mechanical equipment such as treadmills, while helping to activate and strengthen stabiliser muscles throughout the ankles, knees and core.