Like most Americans, you probably have heard the benefits of exercising about a million (or more!) times. You also know that most of us aren’t getting enough exercise.
If your excuses for not working out including “too boring” and “not enough variety,” then head outdoors. Outdoor exercise is a fantastic way to enhance your mental and physical health. Need more convincing? Consider these six reasons to exercise outdoors the next time you find yourself reneging on your daily sweat session.
1. Improving your self-esteem.
Multiple studies show that exercising outdoors can drastically improve your self-esteem, which has a major impact on your mental well-being. While exercising in any outdoor location will suffice, exercising in a green area or near water is particularly effective.
2. Boosting your mood.
Exercising, in general, can improve your mood and reduce symptoms of depression. However, moving the workout outside can reduce angry feelings as well as feelings of sadness or irritability. This is because being outside increases your exposure to vitamin D, which can boost your mood. And you don't need to engage in an intensive workout. Something as simple as working in the garden or mowing the lawn can make you feel better.
3. It provides a more vigorous workout.
When you exercise outside, you’re faced with an environment that’s in a state of constant change. In order to exercise at a consistent pace and intensity, you will need to adapt to those changes. For example, you may have to move around obstacles or adjust to elevation changes. These adaptations, which you’ll often make without realizing, make your body work harder than if you were on a treadmill or working out in a climate-controlled area.
4. The air is cleaner.
Indoor air is often as polluted — if not more — than outdoor air, particularly when there are no air purification systems in place. Even in large cities, it may be better for your respiratory system to exercise outside, where the air is constantly shifting and you aren’t breathing in recycled air.
5. You get a solid dose of vitamin D.
If the winter blues have you feeling down, simply step outside for your afternoon workout. The best and most efficient way to get enough vitamin D is through sunlight. If your weight is increasing or you’re feeling sluggish, taking your workout outside can be an effective way to fill up on this critical vitamin.
6. You become more alert.
Just as being attentive to your surroundings provides your body with a more challenging workout, it also keeps your mind functioning sharply. When you exercise outside, you need to pay attention to the terrain as it shifts and changes. You will need to focus and maintain greater clarity, which can help your mind stay sharp as you age.
If these reasons aren’t enough to convince you to take your workout outdoors, consider this — there are no gym membership fees! The outdoor is an open space where you won’t feel restricted by a lack of equipment or an understanding of how to use certain machines. Exercising outdoors can improve your health in some pretty serious ways. All you need is your body, your mind, and a little bit of fresh air.
Katie Marie is a writer, avid yogi, and outdoor explorer. She spends most of her time practicing meditation and wellness using organic elements within nature.