The unexpected, the fresh air, the amazing landscapes; you can’t experience these in your local gym. But that’s not all, there are a lot more other reasons you should exercise outdoors.
According to industry experts, 1 in 5 Americans pays for a gym membership in hopes that paying the facility fees will encourage them to get some exercise. But is it working?
Rising obesity rates suggest it isn’t, but that’s not all. Working out in a gym could also be dragging down your health if you’re not guided properly.
Instead of hitting the machines, exercising outdoors could offer double the benefits with the same amount of effort (and less to no money).
7 Reasons To Exercise Outdoors
Here is why you should skip the boring gym routine and exercise outdoors:
1. Add Difficulty
One of the primary benefits of exercising outdoors that can’t be replicated in the gym is the unpredictability of the terrain.
When running on a treadmill, you run at the same speed and incline for a set period of time. Outdoors, there are obstacles like:
- fallen branches,
- changing incline,
- and different surfaces like concrete, grass, and sand.
2. Build Flexibility
Natural terrain variations demand mental and physical flexibility and encourage a greater range of physical motions, including different degrees of ankle flexion and changing stride length.
Rather than tuning out and watching TV on the treadmill, when exercising outside, you have to tune in to your body and your surroundings.
3. Boost Mood
No matter where you exercise, regular workouts have been proven to improve your mood and reduce stress, in addition to reducing your risks of heart disease and improving sleep.
Working out in nature, though, can amplify those benefits for several reasons.
First, when you exercise outdoors, you absorb vitamin D from the sun, which is known to improve mood.
4. Improve Brain Performance
Studies with overworked students also show that exercising outside can help reduce mental fatigue and improve performance on cognitive tasks.
Outdoor fitness activities are such powerful mood boosters that many behavioral health and addiction recovery centers offer outdoor therapy options to patients.
These sessions may include everything from practicing yoga outdoors to playing lawn games, and patients testify to increased self-confidence, feelings of inclusion, and an overall reduction in stress levels.
Most importantly, you don’t need to participate in formal outdoor therapy to gain these benefits. Anyone who exercises outside can gain these mental benefits.
5. Opt Out Of Equipment
When you pay for a gym membership, you’re basically buying access to equipment. But you don’t need machines to get a good workout.
And by exercising outside, you can turn elements of the environment into parts of your workout.
For example, you can search out a clear and quiet area to practice yoga, or stretch against a tree in the park.
6. Reduce Stress And Anxiety
For those hoping to improve their mood and reduce stress, yoga is an especially beneficial practice, and anyone can do it.
Regardless of your fitness level, yoga can reduce stress and anxiety, build strength, and improve cognitive function, and it’s easily modified to suit different practitioners.
Those looking for a high-intensity workout can take their power yoga sequence to the park.
Also, individuals interested in a gentler practice can opt for simpler asanas, controlled breathing, and meditation in a peaceful outdoor setting.
7. Accessible To Everyone
Outdoor exercise is accessible to everyone, from city dwellers to those in rural communities. So why would you keep paying for a gym membership?
Instead, explore the space around you and set your body and mind free. You just might be surprised how your overall health improves when you take your fitness routine outside.
So skip your gym and exercise outdoors to gain all these mental, spiritual, and physical benefits. Any kind of exercise is good for your body, but an outdoor workout is best.