No matter what form of exercise you prefer, outdoor exercise provides multiple benefits above indoor workouts. Precautions should be taken in extreme weather. Wear appropriate outdoor gear and remember to take water with you to stay hydrated before, during and after outdoor exercise. Discuss any new exercise plans with your health care provider, especially if you have medical conditions.
Here are 6 benefits of exercising in nature:
- Fresh air has more oxygen.
- Greenscapes raise serotonin levels.
- Triggers primal regions of our brain and psyche.
- More sensory stimulation.
- Increase feelings of well-being and lowers depression.
- Sun exposure increases vitamin D levels and helps optimize hormones.
California Pacific Orthopedic and Sports Medicine released a study that showed that people who exercise outside tend to have success with weight and body fat loss. On average, people who participated in the study by exercising outdoors lost more than 7 pounds and more than 6 percent of their body fat. The obstacles, inclines and valleys that change throughout the course of outdoor exercise can help you lose weight and body fat more quickly than the environment of a flat, controlled environment.
Outdoor exercise can improve your self-esteem and put you in a better mood. If you suffer from premenstrual syndrome, seasonal affective disorder or depression, regular outdoor exercise may help to substantially increase your mood level. Your relaxation and concentration levels can also benefit from exercising outdoors.
Sunlight is a primary source of vitamin D. Limited amounts of sunlight can increase your body's vitamin D levels and reduce the risk of rickets, asthma, thyroid disease and autoimmune disorders. Some forms of psoriasis are improved with increased sun exposure. Since vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, a lack of the vitamin is associated with osteoporosis. Exercise increases bone strength, and outdoor exercise can help your body process bone- and muscle-strengthening calcium. Always use precaution to avoid sunburn when exercising outside.
People who stop exercising because of the boredom or monotony of indoor workouts can benefit from outdoor exercise. Instead of using a stationary bike inside, for example, trail riding or mountain biking will add a change of scenery, terrain and atmosphere. Running and jogging on trails can also add variety to your routine. Even calisthenics, yoga and walking can be more interesting in ever-changing outdoor environments.