I never realized there were so many benefits of outdoor exercise. After all, how much better could outdoor fitness be than indoor? As it turns out, there is a difference and I've been heading outside more often than ever. The next time you want to work out, consider these benefits of outdoor exercise and you might just choose the great outdoors over the gym.
1. Burn More Calories
No matter how much indoor equipment tries to replicate outdoor activities, it's still not as effective as the real thing. One of the major benefits of outdoor exercise is it burns more calories faster. For instance, outdoor running is far more strenuous than a treadmill since the stride is different, you have varying terrain and natural resistance such as wind. If you really need to burn calories, try an outdoor run instead.
2. Better for Mood
There's something undeniably enjoyable about exercising outside. I know I feel better walking around in the sun versus jogging in place in my living room. Try an outdoor workout and see how your mood changes. Odds are you'll be happier and less stressed than if you did the same activities inside. A better mood does wonders for your overall health and will even make you want to work out on a more regular basis.
3. Vitamin D Boost
While you still need to protect your skin from the sun, an outdoor fitness regimen is a great source of vitamin D. More vitamin D is great for your heart, bones and immune system. It's also known to help maintain a healthier body weight. Basically, it's essential for your overall health. You could rely on your multi-vitamin alone or you could just enjoy the free dose by exercising outside.
4. Improved Nervous System
Outdoor activities tend to challenge the nervous system more than their indoor counterparts. The different motions required for outdoor fitness help improve overall flexibility, strength, reflexes and balance. The more you exercise outdoors, the more changes you'll notice in each of these areas. I've noticed my natural klutziness fading away as I become more poised simply by jogging outside.
5. Healthy Body Weight
Outdoor exercise is usually more fun than working out indoors. As a result, you stick with your fitness routine. After all, if it's something you enjoy instead of dread, you're far more likely to do it often. The end result is you achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. Of course, this alone helps prevent a slew of health problems.
6. Improved Concentration
Anyone who has trouble concentrating should definitely give outdoor exercise a try. When we're inside, we tend to focus more on a TV, mobile device or what the person beside you is wearing. Or if you're like me, you just get bored and zone out. When you're outside, you constantly have to focus on what's around you and what you're doing. Forcing you to focus helps improve concentration in all areas of your life.
7. Fights Depression
Exercising on its own is an excellent way to help fend off depression, but outdoor exercise is even better. Since it boosts a person's mood, it also helps improve a person's overall mental health. Believe it or not, nature actually makes you feel better and happier. Anyone with anxiety or depression issues should consider adding outdoor exercise at least a few times a week. A little extra help in the battle is always a good thing.
8. Less Risk of Heart Disease
The increase of vitamin D plus more strenuous workouts help improve the health of your heart. This leads to a lower risk of heart disease. While you still need a healthy diet as well, taking some of your workouts outside gives you even more protection. With all the bad snacks I tend to grab, I definitely want to strengthen my heart all I can.
9. Fewer Illnesses
I've always been a little grossed out by the gym. You have a bunch of people sweating and sharing equipment. The air always feels sticky and heavy to me. I've noticed since I've been working out more, I get sick less. Not only am I away from sick people using the same equipment as me, but the fresh air circulates the air better so I'm not breathing in the same germs over and over.
While you don't have to exercise outside all the time, mix in some outdoor fun with your indoor exercise. It only took a few weeks for me to notice a major difference in how I felt. I also tended to work out longer because I was having fun. What are some of your favorite outdoor exercises?