When the sun is shining, heading to an indoor gym can seem like you’re missing out on a beautiful day. So why not take your workout outdoors?
We've put together six great reasons why you should.
1. It Lowers Blood Pressure and Reduces Stress
Research has shown that physical activity outdoors lowers a person's blood pressure and heart rate, especially if there is greenery around. [i] As a result, exercise outdoors may feel less strenuous than similar exercise indoors, which, in turn, may help improve your performance.
2. It May Improve Sleep
When you exercise outdoors, you’re exposed to natural light, an important element in helping your body establish a good sleep-wake cycle. [ii] The stress-reducing benefits of exercise [iii] may also contribute to a better night’s sleep.
3. It Positively Affects Mental Functioning and Self-esteem
A 2008 study from the University of Michigan showed that just an hour spent interacting with nature can improve memory performance and attention spans by 20 percent, compared with interacting with an urban environment. Exercising in the presence of nature has also been shown to improve self-esteem and mood. [iv]
4. It Provides Sunshine
Vitamin D—one of the fat-soluble vitamins essential to strong bones and a healthy immune system—can be attained via sun exposure when you exercise outdoors.
5. It Offers Variation and a Harder Workout
When you’re active outdoors — whether you’re running on the beach or in the park — your body is encountering a constantly changing environment. To keep up the activity at a consistent pace, you need to adapt to all those little changes in your surroundings (such as slight inclines, bumps, or obstacles you may need to dodge), which means your body works harder than if you were running on a treadmill or using a stair machine. You’re also less likely to get bored with your workouts.
6. Your Social Life will Improve
If you exercise outdoors, you’re more likely to do it in a group. Think hikes, running groups, circuit groups and after-dinner walks with your partner. Being social can also help reduce stress and increase levels of happiness. [v]