It took a global pandemic to awaken many of us to the wonders of working out outdoors and now, even though most gyms have reopened their doors the value of exercise outdoors is still gaining momentum.
Studies have shown that when you exercise outdoors, you’re likely to train for longer – outdoor exercises seemed to do an average of 30 minutes more exercise than those who sweated it out indoors.
Outdoor exercisers also reported more enjoyment, greater satisfaction and an increased likelihood of making a habit out of exercise.
Below we have four reasons to add outdoor exercise to your weekly routine along with their favourite workouts that are perfect to do amongst nature.
#1 EXERCISE OUTDOORS CAN MAKE YOU A BRIGHTER AND NICER PERSON
Working out outside has plenty of proven mood-boosting benefits. Scientists found those who work out in natural environments enjoy increased feelings of revitalization, more energy and more positivity. Plus they are less likely to deal with tension, confusion and anger. And you can enjoy the benefits quickly. Spending as little as 20 minutes in nature is shown to lower stress hormone levels and boost mood.
#2 OUTDOOR EXERCISE CAN HELP REDUCE THE RISK OF POOR MENTAL HEALTH
Because sunshine naturally increases serotonin – a hormone that affects your mood – it's not surprising that exercise outside can help fend off depression and anxiety. Researchers found people who exercise outdoors at least once per week have about half the risk of poor mental health compared with those who are active in other settings. And with every extra weekly outdoor physical activity session, they reduce the risk of mental health issues by a further six percent.
#3 OUTDOOR WORKOUTS CAN BOOST FITNESS RESULTS
When you exercise out in the fresh air, it can lower your blood pressure and heart rate, which can make your workout feel less strenuous. As a result, you'll be more inclined to push yourself into a higher training zone. Interestingly, cyclists are known to burn more calories when riding outdoors due to the wind resistance, and research shows runners burn more calories navigating outdoor terrain than they do on a treadmill.
#4 YOU CAN ALWAYS FEEL SAFE WORKING OUT OUTSIDE
When fitness clubs were forced to close their studio doors during lockdown, many started offering structured workouts outdoors. Now, despite studios reopening and extensive hygiene measures making gyms very safe places to get your sweat on, outdoor workouts remain hugely popular with many gym members.
WHO IS OUTDOOR EXERCISE BEST SUITED TO?
Anyone and everyone can and should enjoy the benefits of physical activity in nature! After analyzing 10 studies from across the United Kingdom, researchers came to the conclusion that both men and women will enjoy increased self-esteem and improved mood after working out in a green environment. Younger people are most likely to see the biggest lift in self-esteem and men are more likely to enjoy a greater mood boost. Interestingly, those who work out in the presence of water seem to enjoy the greatest effects.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO SWEAT TO GET THE OUTDOOR BENEFITS
There is plenty of evidence that simply sitting in nature can work wonders for your wellbeing. Japanese researchers found those who spent time sitting in forest settings had lower cortisol levels, lower heart rates and lower systolic blood pressure than those who stayed in their urban settings. The forest dwellers also had increased immune function – which remained impressively strong even one month after returning to their urban life.
THE BEST WORKOUTS TO DO OUTSIDE
Yoga and nature are the perfect fit, you don't need much space or any equipment, and being out in the elements really awakens your senses, which works wonders for your mind and body.
Whether it's a brisk walk or a relaxed stroll, venturing outdoors for a walk does amazing things for your health and wellbeing. Walking is often an overlooked and under-utilised tool when it comes to losing weight. Completing an extra 10,000 steps everyday can burn anywhere from 2000 to 3500 extra calories each week.
OUTDOOR HIIT AND CARDIO WORKOUTS
High-intensity interval training is the fastest way to build fitness, you can do it anywhere without any equipment and you’re guaranteed to get hot and sweaty – so being out in the fresh air is a winner. “A tough LES MILLS GRIT workout outside can give you a fantastic buzz,” says Erin.
With promises of a dose of vitamin D, a healthy sweat and some miles in the bag, we’re here to encourage summer running.
However it's important to stay safe while running in the sun so we have put together some tips.
Make sure you stay hydrated, You may need to substitute water for a sports drink to get your electrolytes replenished. Dress appropriately, avoid wearing dark colours and make sure clothes are breathable and lightweight. Avoid the hottest part of the day and always listen to your body. If you fancy running in a group, here at NLC we have great Jog Scotland sessions at Airdrie, Iain Nicolson Centre or Motherwell under the supervision of our super jog leaders.
Circuit training can be a great way to build strength and improve cardio fitness outdoors. You can visit an outdoor fitness park, or simply set up your own stations
This article originally appeared at www.lesmills.com/fit-planet