If you’ve ever taken a long walk around the neighborhood, gone on a bike ride, or run through the trails at a local park, then you’ll know how satisfying it feels to be outside and move your body at the same time. These kinds of activities often leave you feeling refreshed, energized, de-stressed, and happier.
Spending time in nature is known to be a big boost for your well-being. And being physically active is important, not just for physical health, but for mental health as well. So it’s not surprising that combining these two things — exercise and time outdoors — can result in significant positive benefits.
It turns out that there are big advantages to exercising outside rather than inside. Outdoor exercise can make your workout more effective while also boosting your mood, decreasing stress, saving you money, and more. Here are 7 good reasons to take your workout outside.
Boost Your Mood
The simple act of being outdoors while you get active can do wonders for your mood. Studies show that exercising in natural environments results in greater mental health benefits than exercising indoors. People report increased emotional wellbeing, energy, revitalization, and satisfaction when exercising outdoors compared to indoors.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the stresses of our day-to-day lives, and our physical and mental health can really take a toll. Taking your exercise routine outside is an easy way to keep some of that at bay. Along with boosting your energy and emotional well-being, exercising outdoors is shown to reduce stress, tension, negative emotions, confusion, anger, and depression more effectively than exercising indoors.
Get a Better Workout
This one might come as a surprise, but research actually suggests that when you exercise outside, the intensity of your workout tends to be higher than when you are inside. It’s unclear exactly why, but wind resistance could be one factor, causing you to have to push harder when you run or cycle outdoors, for example.
The best part? When you’re outside, you can exercise at a higher intensity without feeling any more exerted than normal. There’s something about being in nature (maybe that boosted mood, perhaps?) that makes it easier to exercise harder without feeling more exerted. Who doesn’t like burning some extra calories without even noticing the difference?
Connect with Your Community
The very act of being out and about allows you to feel more connected to the people around you. Whether you are interacting with your neighbors on a walk around the block, chatting with a friend while you take a jog at the local park, or greeting fellow hikers on the trail, you’ll be fostering a sense of community and connection. You’ll get to know your area better — and the people in it.
Enjoy Your Exercise More
For a lot of people, being outside is naturally preferable to being inside. But even if you aren’t a super outdoorsy person, it’s not hard to see why exercising out in the fresh air can be more enjoyable than a stationary jog in the gym. The changing scenery, scents, and sounds and the feel of the sun and wind on your skin keep your senses pleasantly engaged and make your activity seem less repetitive.
When your mood is boosted, your stress is decreased, your body feels less exerted during your workout, and your connection to your community is enhanced, outdoor exercise starts to sound pretty appealing. And if it’s a beautiful day outside, that’s just an added bonus.
Bump Up Your Physical Activity
Let’s face it — it isn’t easy to keep up with a regular workout routine. Many of us don’t exercise nearly as often as we would like. It turns out that one thing that might help you exercise more is to do it outside rather than inside. Research shows that people who are active outdoors tend to exercise more than those who only workout indoors.
Gym memberships and fees for fitness classes can be pretty pricey. One of the best things about a workout in nature? It is completely free. It doesn’t cost a dime to walk out your front door and stroll around the neighborhood, and there are plenty of free parks and trail systems in many areas to enjoy. Have fun exploring the options in your hometown and enjoy the extra room in your budget while you’re at it.
If you are looking to build some new exercise habits, consider how you can add more outdoor activity into your routine. The very act of taking your workout outdoors can have significant benefits to your mood, your fitness level, and even your wallet. So rain or shine, why not give it a try?