Why exercising outdoors may have greater health benefits than an indoor workout

Fitness & Sports Health

by Kevin Reese, ACSM-HFS

May 23, 2017

It’s finally springtime, and that means temperatures are warming up and nature is in bloom. It also means that now is the perfect time to get out of that stuffy gym and change up your exercise routine.

Here are a few reasons why you should get outside and get moving and how to do it.

Reasons to Exercise Outside

Exercising outside feels less routine than in a gym

When you exercise outside, every day the environment is a little bit different. You can go to the same park or trail and notice something different every time. Getting outside will make you feel less like you’re forcing yourself to be healthy and more like a daily adventure. Not to mention that you can always go to a different location each day.

You breathe better outside

Most of us spend the majority of our day in an office or other closed space, which means we are breathing recycled air. Unfortunately, when we exercise in the gym, we are getting even more recycled air, but getting outside replaces that old H2O with fresh air.

Just 20 minutes of exercising outside is equivalent to drinking one cup of coffee in terms of its energy-boosting effects.

You’ll burn more calories

Since you will have more energy exercising outside, you should naturally burn more calories. In addition, when working out on a treadmill, most of us are constantly looking at how much time we have left. On the other hand, when you’re outside, it’s much easier to work longer and harder — because we all know, “Time flies when you’re having fun”!

It’s good to disconnect and be in nature

Most of us spend our days indoors using technology for work and/or play. It’s way too easy for someone to spend days or weeks at a time barely going outside. It’s always a good thing to stop and disconnect from our virtual worlds in order to step outside and soak up the benefits of the outdoors.

When outside, take a minute to smell the roses. See the sights, hear the sounds and be in the moment.

The gym can be unsanitary

Studies have shown that gyms can be downright dirty. We all have seen the people who do not properly wipe off their machine after use and those germs can easily be transferred to others — even if the sweat has dried.

When you exercise outside, there may be germs present, but you usually will not encounter them. If you are prone to allergies or asthma, be sure to check the local weather details and plan accordingly.

Change it up with Group Exercises

If you want to get outdoors, but still want the social aspect of exercising, try these different group exercise options:

Join a running or biking club

All over Texas, you can find various clubs and groups that get together and exercise. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, these groups usually cater to all and are a great way to gain experience and knowledge.

Find free yoga classes

You might have to do some searching, but many community centers and other locations offer free yoga classes around the state. Yoga is a great stress reducer and performing the moves outside only enhances its effects.

Take fitness classes that meet in parks

A recent trend is fitness classes that meet in parks and parking lots to workout. These are a great way to get active with others, and in addition, the class is still being led by a professional. Classes are usually early morning or late evening, so you can miss the heat of the day.

Exercise with a friend

Grab a friend and find a new park or trail and map out a distance you plan to walk/run. If you’re up to it, you can even add in strengthening exercises every ¼ or ½ mile: pushups, squats, toe raises, burpees, etc.

Find additional health and wellness tips on our website. 

About the Author

Kevin Reese, ACSM-HFS has over 7 years of experience in providing both wellness coaching and health promotion. He has worked with various populations with a focus on prevention, weight and stress management, and tobacco cessation. Kevin earned his Bachelor’s degree from DePauw University, in Greencastle, Indiana. He also has certifications from The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), The American Council on Exercise (ACE), and The American Fitness Professionals Association (AFPA). Kevin’s motto is “Your Health is Your Wealth” and believes that once a person values their health, they will increase their quality of life.  Kevin is currently a Wellness Coordinator for Baylor Scott & White Health. He feels that improving overall health causes a ripple effect that can start with just one person and eventually affect a whole community and beyond.

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