We fight the crowds all winter and spring in the gym to get ready for summer, and then as soon as summer hits, the gym is empty as everyone enjoys being outside. We don’t blame you at all for trading in the sweat smelling gym for fresh air in the great outdoors, it can be nearly impossible to head into the gym on a sunny summer afternoon to get your workout in. The good news is that you don’t have to sacrifice your workout at all, in fact you should take your workout outside. Scientific research has proven the many positive benefits of working out in the great outdoors. We’ve found the top 4 benefits of taking your workout outdoors and provided our best tips to make sure you have the best workout ever.
Why Working Out, Outside is Good For You
Increased Vitamin D
Known as the sunshine vitamin because once the sun rays hit the skin your body begins the biological process of creating Vitamin D. Vitamin D has been linked to prevention of osteoporosis, depression, cancer, stroke and heart attacks. Exposing your body to sunlight for 10 to 15 minutes even a few times a week will ensure that your body has all the vitamin D it needs.
Improved Mental Clarity & Concentration
The term ‘nature-deficit disorder’ was coined by Richard Louv in his 2008 book Last Child in the Woods. The term is a play on Attention Deficit Disorder as researchers have observed children with ADHD are able to focus and concentrate better after being outdoors. This improved mental clarity and concentration isn’t just experienced by children, adults experience it as well. If you have never taken a walk or run to clear your mind, don’t wait, just go and experience the clarity for yourself.
Not only does being in natural light affect mood and self-esteem, physical activity does too. Working out outside doubles the benefits of both light and activity. Many people can suffer the ill-effects of the dark days of winter with seasonal affective disorder typically characterized by depression and lethargy. These symptoms can be alleviated by being in natural light everyday. Even 5—10 minutes of exercise outside a day is enough to make you happier and less irritable. People who regularly exercise outdoors have lower stress levels than people who don’t.
Faster Recovery and Healing
In 2005 a research study from the University of Pittsburgh reported that subjects reported less stress and pain. Subjects recovered faster and took fewer pain medications during their recoveries when they had more exposure to natural light. As being in the outdoors puts us in a better mood, we are more likely to begin our workouts more relaxed and also reduce risk of injury.
How to Workout Outside
Working outside can be as simple as a walk or run, it can be playing catch with your kids or you can bring your gym outside or make a gym in nature. The key to working out in the outdoors, is to keep your workouts fun and varied. Working out outside will make you a better athlete as the outdoors are not a controlled environment. When you workout outside, you have to deal with sunlight, the amazing views, fresh air and maybe a pesky bug or two. When you run on a trail you have a better view and more varied terrain than a treadmill, you might find that you run faster and longer than you do in the gym. If you include body weight exercises into your run you can easily burn more calories while working out your abs, chest, back and legs. If you workout in full sun, remember to stay hydrated, wear sun protection including spf, sunglasses and a hat.
However you chose to take your workout outside, we know it will make you happier and healthier.
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