As the weather starts to warm up, people are anxious to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. Many of us are cooped up indoors for months at a time during the winter months, but we are now free to roam outdoors, and that includes taking our workouts outside.
Here are the top benefits of outdoor exercise:
Improved mental health. A study from the University of Michigan concluded that group nature walks are linked with significantly lower rates of depression, less perceived stress, and enhanced mental health and well-being.1 Another study conducted by researchers at The Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry showed exercising outdoors increased energy and positive engagements, with decreases in tension, confusion, anger, and depression.2
Workouts are more challenging. Wind, temperature changes, hills and athletic surfaces can make even the simplest workout a challenge. The result could be more calories burned compared to the same workout done indoors.
Change in scenery. The ever changing scenery of outdoor workouts can keep exercise fresh and invigorating. A workout that isn’t boring can prompt a person to exercise longer or more intensely because they are mentally engaged.
Vitamin D. Exercising outdoors can help a person get the vitamin D their bodies need. A lack of vitamin D in the body has been linked to cancer, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, depression, brittle bones and the common cold. A recent study on dementia-free individuals over age 65 discovered those with low levels of vitamin D were 53% more likely to develop dementia, and 70% were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s.3
In or Out?
The following exercises can be done indoors, but are just as fun (and challenging) when done outdoors:
Cycling. Cycling outdoors is a great activity for the entire family. More calories may be burned as well because the upper body is used more to keep the bike upright and turn, especially when riding into the wind, off road or on a hilly course. It is estimated a person who weighs 155 pounds would burn 260 calories while riding a stationary bike for 30 minutes. That same person could burn 372 calories if riding outdoors.4
Jogging/Walking. A study published in the journal Psychology of Sport and Exercise found that people who ran outside ran faster than people who ran on treadmills, yet they had the lower perceived exertion and higher feelings of revitalization and overall satisfaction.5 An extra challenge is to walk while pushing a jogging stroller or jog on sand or grass.
Beach volleyball. Playing volleyball on sand is a great cardiovascular workout that helps tone the entire body. The sand gives extra resistance, prompting a person to work harder than on a traditional volleyball court. Playing a game of beach volleyball is equivalent to running a 12-minute mile.
Snorkeling/Scuba diving. While these activities may not be as strenuous as laps in the pool, a person may spend hours snorkeling or scuba diving with friends. The calories burned are secondary to the relaxation and joy a person experiences when swimming with dolphins or looking at the coral reef.
Rollerblading/Inline skating. Rollerblading and in-line skating are great ways to tighten and tone the glutes while simply out having a good time. An hour of brisk in-line skating can burn 250 calories or more.
While there are many benefits to working out at home or in the gym exercising outdoors has many advantages as well. Take advantage of the warm weather and exercise in the fresh air. Your body will thank you.
Jeff White is a certified personal trainer, author and wellness coach. He believes a strong mind and body go hand in hand, and both are needed for optimum performance. Jeff is the author of the award winning and Amazon Best Seller The 3 Pillars of Strength: Increasing Your Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Fitness.