10 Perks of Exercising Outside
Whether you're running, walking, swimming, cycling or HIITing it like a pro, you know that regular exercise is amazing for your mind and body. You know it protects against a myriad of serious diseases like heart disease and cancer, and it also improves mood and brain power. What you may not know is that if you take your exercise out of doors, you snag even more sweet perks from your sweat sessions.
What perks, exactly? Read on to find out!
1. Less Distractions
Working up a good lather al fresco takes you out of your comfort zone -- which can also be your distracted zone. When you’re outside, you won't be as likely to be distracted by other people's demands on you, or by immediate chores that you think need to be addressed. You're in the fresh air, and you're there to get shit done.
2. Daily Dose of Vitamin D
With more and more people working indoors during prime sunlit hours, we aren't getting as much vitamin D as we used to -- and it's affecting our health. Sufficient vitamin D aids in the maintenance of healthy teeth and bones, while also supporting your immune system, balancing insulin levels and facilitating proper lung function and cardiovascular well-being. It can even impact the gene expression that influences the development of cancer. Serious stuff, right?
As little as 15 minutes of exposure to the sun can help your body produce the vitamin D it needs to be healthy. Coincidently, 15 minutes is about as much time as it takes to smash out a HIIT session, so no excuses!
3. Makes You Happier
Exercising anywhere can make you happier, but exercising outdoors has been shown to really enhance your overall feelings of happiness. Those observed for this study found that the "mental well-being immediately following exercise in nature [were] not seen following the same exercise indoors."
These good feelings included a reduction in tension, anger, depression, and confusion.
4. You're More Likely to Do It
Given that exercising outside makes you feel so damn good, it's no surprise that research shows that people who exercise outdoors are more likely to keep exercising.
5. You'll Lose Fat
Compared to hanging out around the house, when you're outside, you move around more -- and it shows. A study conducted in 2008 shows that people who spend more time outside were 27%-41% less obese than those who spent an influx of time inside.
6. You’ll Get—and Stay—Energized
Unlike a cup of coffee, exercising outside picks you up and keeps you up. Yes, exercising alone can increase your energy, but research shows that combining this exercise with a healthy hit of nature can perk you up as much as a cup of coffee, with no crash.
7. You Can Meet People
Maybe it's all that feel-good fresh air, but people who love the outdoors are just friendlier. Even if you just exchange smiles everyday with the couple doing Tai Chi in the park while you pound out your jump squats, there is a certain amount of of joi-de-vie among outdoor enthusiasts that outshines that of couch potatoes. Granted, you may not want to meet people, but just experience some good ol' fashion humanity in action can be uplifting.
8. You Naturally Bust Plateaus
Running on the spot in your living room or on a treadmill can only offer up so much variation. Sure, you can run harder, or increase the incline, but your terrain pretty much stays the same. As a result, it’s easier to plateau. When you workout outdoors, however, your terrain can constantly change. You can find new natural features to help you amp up your workout, whether it be a new trail with new twist, turns and hills, or a new park with new equipment to re-purpose for your workouts.
9. Nature is Family Friendly
Most gyms frown upon you bringing your kids along with you to hang out and wait for you to do your workout. However, your kids are expected at the park, so you can let them run, jump and play at will while you do the same. It’s fitness for the whole family — and it’s free!
10. You’ll Boost Your Confidence
People expect you to workout at the gym. And at home there’s no one to see you. But when you workout in a truly public space, you emit a killer confidence. Granted, you may not feel this confidence at first: you may just feel conspicuous. But trust us: you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who is judging you harshly. They may be marveling at you, and wishing they had your motivation, but they likely aren’t noticing you at all, or they’re giving you props.
Being self-assured enough to bust out in burpees in front of complete strangers builds character, and it builds confidence — and this confidence is what will keep fueling your fire, and keep you fighting for the good gains for years to come.