Cooler weather is finally here and with it brings the opportunity to try a fresh fitness idea- taking your workouts outdoors!
Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your mind and body and with tons of options available, almost everyone can find a type of exercise program that’s enjoyable. No matter if it’s yoga, Zumba, weight lifting, Pilates, cycle, the list of options is long! Most of these activities are done indoors, so exercising outside may not be something that’s ever occurred to you. With a little creativity, exercising outdoors can give your current fitness program a motivation boost in addition to offering plenty of other health perks.
The Health and Wellness Perks of Exercising Outside
Boosts your Mood: By itself, exercise does a great job of boosting your mood by releasing feel-good hormones (like serotonin) and endorphins that can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. When you add in the benefit of being outdoors in the sunshine, your body is able to soak up extra Vitamin D (another mood booster) and it also helps promote even more secretion of serotonin.
Challenges you in different ways. When you are active outdoors, your environment is always changing which is a much different experience than being in a climate controlled environment like a gym. Even slight changes like bumps, holes, and inclines cause you to adapt and work harder. This helps burn more calories, build more muscle, and boosts your efficiency allowing you to workout for less time.
Gives you access to fresh air. Although a gym is climate controlled with circulating air, studies have shown that there can be more pollutants in an indoor environment than an outdoor one.
Enhances self-esteem. Just like exercise can boost your mood, any type can help enhance your self-esteem. However, studies have shown that this effect is even greater when you take your workouts outside for just a few minutes daily.
Might be easier to stay consistent. A 10 minute walk outdoors can go by in no time, whereas a 10-minute walk on a treadmill can feel like eternity. This means that exercising outdoors might be easier to stick to than constantly trying to keep your workouts indoors. Plus, you can take your workouts just about anywhere you go!
6 Ways to Exercise Outdoors
Walking. Yes, walking is great exercise and tons of fun to do outside in the fresh air! Make a leisurely stroll more challenging by adding intervals. Walk at your usual pace for 1 minute and then speed walk (or even jog) for another minute. Alternate for 10-30 minutes.
Yoga. Yoga is a good example of "portable exercise" as you only need a mat and maybe a block or two. Thanks to smartphones and computers you can also take yoga classes with you too!
Play on a playground. Monkey bars, stairs, and climbing obstacles are all examples of fun exercise that also help you get in tune with your inner-kid!
Play catch or frisbee. Grab a friend, your partner, your kids, etc. and go outside for a simple game of catch. You’ll be working up a seat in no time.
Biking. Cycle classes are great, but nothing beats a ride out in the real world.
Invest in a kettlebell or two. Just like yoga, strength training workouts can be portable too. By purchasing a couple of kettlebells, or dumbbells, you have a convenient way to take your squats, lunges, shoulder presses, and more outside.
3 Things You’ll Want to Have on Hand for Outdoor Workouts
Just like when you go to a gym, outdoor workouts require a little prep work. Make sure you drink plenty of water before and after you exercise and have a water bottle handy during! Also, wear sunscreen and protective clothing, like a hat. Even if it’s chilly outside you’ll most likely break a sweat, so be sure to have a towel nearby as well. Last, but certainly not least, unless you plan to be exercising with a group of people, alert a trusted friend or family member where you will be exercising.
Exercising outdoors is a fun, fresh way to get physically active. You don’t always have to go to a gym in order to feel and see results. Try something new this season and get outside!