Just because it’s September and PSL season is in full swing, doesn’t mean you have to hibernate in the gym for the next six months. Taking your workouts outdoors offers a ton of health and fitness benefits that shouldn’t just be reserved for summer time.
So, grab your jacket and run with us while we take you through some of the scientifically backed reasons to go outside and start sweating.
1. Improve mood
Getting out in the fresh air does wonders for our mental state. Feeling angry? Go for a run through the park. Stressed at work? Do some rooftop yoga. By simply being outside during exercise has been linked several times with reductions in tension, confusion, anger and depression.
A 2012 report found that people who spent time outdoors were 50% happier than those who were just committed to the gym. What’s more, a study published in Environmental Science and Technology found that 71% of people felt less stressed after a 30-minute walk in the park. This is compared to 72% of people who felt more stressed when they took their walks indoors.
2. Increase energy
If you’re feeling sluggish, even after a workout, perhaps it’s time to stop reaching for the coffee and step outside, as fresh air has been proven to be reinvigorating. A 2009 study found that 20 minutes outside can get you as pumped as a cup o’ Joe.
3. Get more vitamin D
With our lives being predominantly indoors, not enough of us are getting sufficient vitamin D. If you didn’t already know, vit D is essential for strong bones and a healthy immune system and getting it is as easy as walking out your front door.
Some research suggests that just five to 30 minutes of sun exposure between 10 am and 4 am at least twice a week is sufficient for vitamin D synthesis. If your schedule doesn’t allow for midday exercise, take a lunchtime stroll around the block to help improve your vitamin D intake. Just remember to always protect your skin with sunscreen.
– RELATED: The Pros And Cons Of Working Out At Home –
4. Stick to it
Fluorescent lighting and communal showers don’t exactly scream “come back again tomorrow!”, but brown leaves, sunrises and fresh air, might. A 2011 survey found that taking your workout outside is a reinforcing behavior with outdoor exercisers claiming to have a ‘greater intent to repeat the activity’ than the gym-going counterparts.
5. Improve mental health
Mental health is no joke and we already know that fitness can improve anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. However, can being in the fresh air help us to think even clearer? According to a 2011 study, being in the great outdoors can improve our mental health.
“Closeness to nature increases our well-being – it has an immunizing effect by protecting us from future stresses and helping us concentrate and think more clearly,” says lead author, Jo Barton, Ph.D.
6. Burn more calories
When we get into a rut with exercise, our body stops burning fat as effectively. Taking your workout outdoors could boost your metabolism again. By swapping the treadmills for the trails, you can burn up to 7% more calories.
Not only that, but by being in the open air, your body’s ability to consume oxygen and balance CO2 levels internally are increased. This means that your muscles’ ability to burn energy is increased, making it a powerhouse for burning calories more effectively.
7. Fight germs
If you’ve ever walked into a gym (which we assume you have), you’ll have noticed that it isn’t the cleanest place to be. Not everyone remembers to wipe down the machines and it can be a breeding ground for bacteria and germs. In fact, MRSA, a type of bacteria that’s resistant to most antibiotics, is frequently found at a local gym.
To avoid the health risks, get some fresh air. According to a study from the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air is two to five times more polluted than outdoor air – that’s enough to make you breathe easy.
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