Outdoor Exercise: Achieve Your Fitness Goals in Fresh Air
Imagine this: It’s 6am in the morning, the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and a gentle breeze touches your skin. You take a deep breath, filling your lungs with fresh air as you gear up your favorite running shoes.
Sounds enticing, right?
Whether you are a gym rat or a regular fitness enthusiast, there's no denying the incredible benefits of exercising outdoors to your overall fitness experience. You might even be surprised how taking your workout outside can multiply the effect of your exercises!
This article will discuss the physical and psychological benefits of exercising outdoors and what type of exercise is best for outdoor workouts.
Everyone has their preferred best time to work out. If you are a morning person, then this is for you.
Exercising is proven effective in keeping you physically and mentally healthy. But taking your workout outdoors can be exciting and provide many benefits you can't get inside the gym.
When you exercise outdoors, you're working your muscles and soaking up essential vitamin D from the sun. This improves your immunity and reduces the risk of injuries, especially if you are physically active.
If you aren't spending a bit of your morning routine under the sun, there's a high chance that you are vitamin D deficient. Based on statistics, about 50% of the population lacks the required vitamin D for optimal health. This deficiency can lead to bone problems later in life.
Are you suffering from poor sleep quality? Studies found that when you are exposed to sunlight in the morning, your melatonin production occurs sooner, allowing you to enter sleep more easily. The hormone melatonin helps your body to identify when you need to wake up and when you need to rest and slumber.
If you have migraines, back pains, and other chronic pain, walking in the park might be a lot of help. According to Environmental Research, spending time in greenspaces and natural settings can help improve the pain experience and symptoms.
Exercising outdoors can be a cost-effective pain therapy and help you connect with nature. The combination of vitamin D exposure, physical exercise, and possible social interaction reduces pain symptoms.
Unlike indoor gyms, outdoor workouts provide a boundless environment and can reduce the pressure that some people may feel in a gym setting. The sense of freedom and abundance of open space is always appealing and soothing to the mind.
Plus, you can enjoy the benefits of nature and outdoor exercise with no added cost anytime you want.
Outdoor exercises can uplift your mood and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. In addition, walking outside and being under the sun can ward off seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression associated with low sunlight exposure, which often happens during fall or winter.
Studies have shown that your brain tends to have higher serotonin levels on bright and sunny days. Serotonin is a feel-good hormone that stabilizes your mood, which improves your mental health.
Whether you are jogging, running, or biking outdoors, the environment varies and can be unpredictable. As a result, you'll encounter different inclines, curbs, and other obstacles that will force your body to work harder, which is excellent to spice up your routine and prevent overtraining and plateau in your fitness progress.
In addition, factors such as terrain, temperature change, and wind resistance can increase your energy expenditure. This means you are more likely to torch more calories and cut off belly fat in the long run if you take your workout outside.
Indoor air can be significantly more polluted due to poor ventilation and off-gassing from furniture, gym equipment, and building materials. By exercising outdoors, you’ll breathe fresh oxygen straight from nearby plants and trees and expose your lungs to cleaner air.
Fresh, oxygen-rich air is crucial for proper lung and heart functions, especially during physical activities. The increased oxygen levels outdoors can improve exercise performance. This is why elite athletes train outdoors for their endurance exercises and routines.
Outdoor exercises provide unique and diverse opportunities to experience fun and challenges with friends that a gym setup can't offer. Sporting activities such as trail running, hiking, and outdoor boot camps are great ways to create exciting new memories while staying fit and healthy.
Being exposed to the warmth of the sun is always a good feeling and somehow romantic. Even more interesting is that studies show that Ultraviolet B (UVB) exposure from the sun enhances levels of sex hormones, resulting in enhanced romantic passion in both genders.
Just 15-20 minutes of outdoor time can increase testosterone levels by up to 120%. Now imagine the effect of adding strengthening exercises, which have been proven to shoot up T-levels, to your outdoor walks.
Outdoor exercises take you out of your comfort zone, away from a typical air-conditioned and controlled gym environment. This builds your mental toughness, improves creativity, and helps you learn more about yourself.
Just want to chill and relax? Walking at a steady pace is the most essential outdoor exercise with tons of benefits. It is safe, low-impact, and improves lubrication on your weight-bearing joints, such as the ankles, knees, hips, and spine.
20 minutes of walking every day can decrease the risk of getting sick by 43% and lower the risk of developing cancers, based on studies.
Want to improve your posture and tone up your muscles? Outdoor yoga is the perfect mix of relaxation, meditation, and fitness. This allows you to enjoy the fresh morning air while relieving tightness in your muscles.
You can jump anywhere you want, so why not do it outside? Jumping rope is an enjoyable and physically demanding activity, which is excellent for cardiorespiratory endurance. In addition, it trains your coordination and burns a hell lot of calories!
Here’s a workout plan that will help you achieve your fitness goals by mixing gym and outdoor workouts:
If you do not like GHD machines or Roman Chairs, then biking can do the trick. Biking targets the big muscles of the quads, glutes, and hamstrings, which are often neglected in the gym. It is a stress-relieving activity and an excellent exercise for the heart and lungs. If your city supports bike lanes, you can commute to work riding your bike!
If you want a more functional workout that increases your strength and improves your overall physique, head to your local park and do some bodyweight exercises.
Remember, all you need is your own body to start exercising. A bench can serve as your platform for tricep dips, incline push-ups, and Bulgarian split squats. A monkey bar can be your pull-up bar and muscle ups. Just be creative and enjoy your freedom!
If you are in a hurry but want to maximize your fitness gains, then High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is for you. It is an intense workout that prioritizes the speed or intensity of your movements with minimal rest time, allowing you to double the calorie you burn in less time.
Try running for 1 full minute and then walking for 30 seconds. Repeat this cycle for as many as you like. You can also do circuit training by adding some squats or push-ups in the cycle.
Remember, being outside is all about freedom, don't overthink the structure of your workout. Instead, keep moving and enjoy the exercises. It is also fun to do them with friends.
- Stay hydrated
- Wear proper shoes
- Apply sunscreen (lots of it!)
And if you are too busy in the morning, you can never go wrong with the solitude of night walks. It doesn’t matter whether you exercise in the morning or at night. As long as you exercise, it always counts.
Outdoor exercise offers unique and exciting benefits that you wouldn't get in a typical gym. By including outdoor workouts, even just a few days, in your routine, you can elevate your fitness experience while staying healthy.
The diverse environments, challenging terrains, and exposure to nature provide an unparalleled opportunity to enhance your physical and mental well-being. So, whether you're a seasoned athlete or just starting your fitness journey, consider taking your workouts outdoors to make the most of your exercise routine.