Benefits of Outdoor Exercise

By Kristi Harries

After a long winter of working out indoors, many people enjoy switching up their routines and taking their sweat sessions outside. The change of scenery alone is enough for most, but there are a few added health benefits to encourage more outside workouts this summer!

Mental and Emotional Well-being: A randomized study found that natural environment exercise was linked to increased energy, greater feelings of revitalization and greater satisfaction. Participants also reported they were more likely to exercise again compared to their indoor counterparts.

Outdoor exercise has also been associated with decreasing tension, confusion, anger and depression. A few small studies have found that people who exercise outside have lower blood levels of cortisol, the hormone related to stress.

Improved Attention and Focus: Although any exercise is likely to help with clearing the mind, a small study from the University of Illinois found that ADHD children were better able to concentrate after a 20-minute walk in the park than those who walked through the city or neighborhood streets. This shows that our physical environment can make a difference.

Higher Vitamin D levels: Taking your workout outside is a great way to soak up a few extra sun rays and get that needed vitamin D. Although you want to be safe and wear sunscreen, if you are planning to be in the sun for a long period of time, being outside may be especially helpful for people with low levels of vitamin D.

Burn more Calories: Outdoor exercise tends to be more strenuous than the indoor version. Comparing the exertion of running on a treadmill and the exertion of running outside, treadmill runners expended less energy to cover the same distance as those striding outside; primarily because indoor exercises do not face wind resistance or changes in the terrain. The same dynamic can apply to cycling. That means that if you have limited time and want to burn as many calories as possible, you should hit the road instead of the gym!

Another small study on older adults (men and women aged 66 or older) found that volunteers reported enjoying the outside activity more and found that those who exercised outside exercised longer and more often than those who exercised indoors.

To help get you started, follow this link to see some fun outside exercises!

http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/workout/lose-weight/total- body/best-outdoor- workout/?page=1

References:

Healthy Living (2012) Outdoor Exercise: Health Benefits of Working out Outside. Huffington Post.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/23/outdoor-exercise- health-benefits_n_1616467.html

Reynolds, Gretchen (2013) The Benefits of Exercising Outdoors. The New York Times.
https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/21/the-benefits- of-exercising- outdoors/?_r=0

A Health Blog (2017) More Mental and Physical Benefits from Outdoor Exercise.
https://www.ahealthblog.com/confirmation-of- mental-and- physical-benefits- from-outdoor-exercise.html

About the Author:

Kristi has been with BaySport coming up on 7 years managing the Micro Focus location in Provo, Utah. She graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho with a degree in Health Promotion and Lifetime Wellness, and is a Licensed Massage Therapist. She enjoys working with clients to improve their lifestyle and coach them towards a long healthy life! She loves living close to the mountains to hike and fish with her husband and now 10 month old daughter. She is running the Utah Valley and Mt. Nebo Half marathons this summer and enjoys training outside after a long snowy winter!

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