There are a number of reasons to suck it up do outdoor exercise, especially if you are one who is stuck indoors a lot due to your job, or to your obsessive gaming habit...cough cough. Here are just a few reasons to go outdoors for your workouts, and ways to help you get started.
If you are a vampire, I apologize, but some facts still remain true for nighttime adventures!
Read on for Benefits of Outdoor Exercise
- [restrict ...] Gets you off your butt - If you are a desk jockey, gamer, reader, writer, artist, then you probably spend a lot of time sitting (unless you have one of those awesome adjustable desks that cranks up to a stand, those are so cool). Sitting for too long has a lot of adverse side effects, so get outdoors and walk around, get that blood pumping, get your muscles working, and you will feel pretty good.
- That Vitamin D - Vitamin D is an important vitamin needed for bone growth and remodeling, and calcium absorption. (Yep, all those calcium supplements won’t work without presence of Vitamin D). Vitamin D deficiency can lead to brittle or misshapen bones, and can lead to osteoporosis in older adults. It also helps with cell growth, immune function, and reducing inflammation. You can get Vitamin D from fortified foods (like milk and cereal) however the BEST way to get Vitamin D is from the sun. It is recommended that adults aged 17-70 years old get 600 IU (International Units) of Vitamin D daily. Fortified foods usually have about 100 IU of Vitamin D, but sun exposure between the hours of 10am to 3pm, for 5 to 30 minutes, twice a week seem to satisfy the recommended value. Sunscreen does block some of the exposure, but not all. Of course prolonged sun exposure is dangerous itself, but a few days a week, for a few minutes of exposure is good for you.
- Mind/Body benefits - The New York times reported in 2013 that people who exercised outdoors experience less anxiety, anger, depression, and tension than those who only exercised indoors. They also experienced increased revitalization and energy. Plus, you can totally role-play if you are outside (I am Legolas! and I am running to find my the Hobbits and help destroy the One Ring!- Not that I have EVER done that before.....nope, never ;))
- Improved self-esteem - Often in a gym setting, people have a subconscious awareness of eyes on them, which increases stress levels, especially with those who have some kind of anxiety. Outdoors is more calming, and you can truly focus on yourself and your workout without worrying about others around you. I have been a trainer for 12 years, and I still get anxiety in a crowded gym. It's only natural for some of us! I much prefer quiet, or outdoors, with my own music blaring in my ears (or audio book!).
- You might be able to work out longer - When people are in the gym, and they kind-of don’t want to be (you know…), they start being hyper aware of time, and scheduling their workouts around a set timed schedule. When you take it outdoors, your level of enjoyment might go up, your perception of time decreases, and you end up working out longer and better then if you were in a gym. Think about running or walking on a treadmill versus running or walking outdoors. I absolutely loathe running, and if I am on a treadmill, 5 minutes feels like 30 and I am constantly checking. When I am outdoors, I am lost in the rhythm, noticing things around me, pushing myself to new landmarks, and THEN I still have to go back home!
- You might work out harder - Outdoors you experience things that you don’t get in a gym, especially while doing cardiovascular exercise. You get wind resistance, ebbs and flows in terrain, and incline/decline changes. You will likely burn more calories and challenge yourself more working out outside because of these factors.
- Natures Exercise Equipment - You can pretty much find workout equipment anywhere outdoors. In an urban society you can use stairs, benches, playgrounds, to get a fantastic total body workout in. If you live in more rural areas you may have the privilege of using hills, trees, stumps, rocks to get a great workout in. Think outside the box and use what’s around you to challenge yourself.
- Save Money - Sticking with the above theme, you don’t need a gym to be in awesome shape. Did Katniss Everdeen have a gym before she competed in the Hunger Games? Did Tris before she found out she was Divergent? No, they got to be badasses with what they had available. (yes they had some training once they were established, but it was minimal and crude, you still get the point. 🙂 ). You can save money on a gym membership by turning your outdoor world into your fitness place!
- Fun Apps and Games - There are quite a few walking/moving apps and games that you can download as motivation to go farther, faster outside. Whether it’s as simple as a pedometer, or a GPS tracker that takes you to new places, or Pokemon Go, which is just straight up fun (just don’t be stupid with it). These apps provide some kind of external motivation to get you working harder. Pair it with a bluetooth heart rate monitor for an even better outdoor exercise experience, and you are golden!
- Family Bonding Time - It can be hard to get good quality time with the family. I know at my house, my kid plays video games in his room, my husband plays video games on the TV, and I am playing video games on my PC. Not a whole lot of quality bonding going on there (especially because we like all different types of games). However, we commit ourselves to evening walks/runs/outdoor fitness that we all take part in, Pokemon Go walks, and walks with our dog. We always have a goal of being out for 30 minutes, but most of the time it ends up being an hour or more.
So yea...get exercise outdoors. Get moving!
National Institute of Health Fact Sheet - Vitamin D
New York Times - Benefits of Exercising Outdoors
Fox News - Unexpected Benefits of Exercising Outdoors