6 Amazing Benefits of Exercising Outdoors
You know that exercise is great for your mind and body. But did you know that where you exercise is just as important as how you work out? It’s true. Significant studies over the last couple of decades show that exercising outdoors as opposed to inside is much healthier, physically and mentally. So the next time you want to break a sweat, head outdoors for the following 6 amazing benefits of exercising outside.
1 – You Burn More Calories Than When You Exercise Inside
Does the sun and fresh air outside somehow magically multiply your calorie burn? Of course not. But a lot of research shows that time flies when you are exercising outdoors. The sights, sounds and smells of mother nature keep you distracted and you end up working for a longer period of time, therefore burning more calories.
2 – You Smile More
Something about the way your body works understands when you are outside. Human beings are creations of nature. So when you are outdoors, your body releases “feel good” endorphins and other chemicals. There are many reports that link less stress, a feeling of happiness and higher levels of positive thinking and energy to outside exercise as opposed to working out indoors.
One such study, whose results were published in Environmental Science and Technology, showed that 71% of people felt a reduction in stress after a 30 minute walk in a park. Incredibly, 72% of their indoor walking counterparts actually suffered from a greater feeling of stress.
3 – You Release Superhuman Germ Fighting Powers
Well, maybe not superhuman powers, but your germ fighting ability increases nonetheless. This is for 2 reasons. Exercise boosts your metabolism and immune system, regulating healthy germ fighting responses. The second way that exercising outdoors helps fight infection and disease has to do with your indoor options.
Gymnasiums and other indoor workout facilities are not always the healthiest places to be. The National Athletic Trainers’ Association reports that herpes, athlete’s foot and ringworm are just a few of the common hazardous infections you can pick up at your local gym.
4 – Your Brain Gets Supercharged
Multiple studies have shown the power of outdoor exercise and working out indoors to create a sharper mind and improved memory. The combination of exercise, fresh air and sunshine, and a perceived “return to nature”, delivers mental benefits as well as physical ones
5 – Exercising Outside Puts Money in Your Pocket
Did you know that 85% of American men and women spend as much as $600 per year on gym memberships, according to Women’s Health magazine? And most of the time, they do not even go and use the facilities. Working out in the great outdoors also saves you money on fuel for your vehicle when you can walk or run to your outdoor exercise spot.
6 – You Never Miss a Workout, Because the Great Outdoors Is Always Open
Nighttime, daytime, summer and winter, morning, noon and night mother nature is ready for you. No one shuts down the outdoors. This increases the likelihood that you will not miss a workout, and the diverse environmental offerings available to you also guarantee you will look forward to your outdoor exercise.
How Exercising Outdoors Affects Your Brain
Have you heard that exercise can actually stimulate your brain? This happens because of the improved oxygen flow that physical activity provides. When your brain gets plenty of oxygen, it just works so much better. Recent studies show that when you perform exercise outdoors, the effects are even greater. The following benefits show just how exercising outdoors improves your brain and mental functioning.
Outdoor Exercise Decreases the Amount of Stress on Your Mind
It’s true. Working out or exercising outside affects your brain in a positive way where stress is concerned. The fresh air and sunlight that accompany outdoor exercise and physical activities produce lower blood levels of cortisol in most people. This is the hormone directly related to stress and anxiety, and in some cases, even depression.
People who are Physically Active Outdoors Tend to Stay Active Longer
Whenever you are exercising, blood pumps oxygen throughout your body. This keeps your brain sharp and focused. Regular exercise also improves memory over the long-term. A recent study showed that people exercising outdoors as opposed to indoors tend to stay active for longer periods of time.
This means your brain benefits from ample oxygen much more than if you worked out inside. This positive brain effect was even more pronounced in senior citizens that exercised outside, when compared to their indoor counterparts.
Your Self-Esteem and Pleasure Levels Spike When You Exercise Outdoors
Your brain is in charge of how you feel. And those complex processes that decide whether you are happy or sad seem to be affected by where you exercise. Because of this, you can instantly improve your vitality and enthusiasm by heading outdoors for your next workout.
Test subjects that ran or walked the same distances indoors (on a stationary bike or treadmill) as opposed to outdoors were nowhere near as happy after their exercise as those participants who traveled the same distance outdoors. Self-esteem, pleasure and happiness are brain-driven responses to your state of being, and can be positively affected by exercising outside.
Your Brain Rewards Nature-Based Activities With a Cancer Fighting Boost
Scientists and fitness experts agree that staying active outdoors is so important that they have given outdoor activities a special name. Vitamin G, which refers to time spent in and around green, natural spaces, offers all of the brain benefits listed above. When you combine exercise and improved oxygen flow throughout your body with Vitamin G, your brain actually appears to recognize your healthy efforts.
Your brain then commands your skin to begin producing vitamin D because of the sunshine you are receiving while exercising outside. This combination of vitamin D and an improved circulatory system from exercising reduces your risk of contracting many forms of cancer.