Body Health Editorial

The Benefits of Outdoor Exercise

The Benefits of Outdoor Exercise Zosia Beauty

It is well known that physical exercise is critical for both physiological and psychological well-being.

After all, exercise is our biggest weapon against disease and depression. But should that exercise happen at an indoor gym, or outdoors? Sure, there are times when you must exercise inside because of climate concerns, but growing research is supporting both the physiological and mental benefits of exercising outdoors, or “green exercise” as it is known.

Benefits of Outdoor Exercise

The environment you exercise in may play a big part in helping to motivate you.  A study of older adults has shown that physical activity outdoors helped to drive longer and more frequent workouts than exercising indoors. This is good because older adults tend to spend more time indoors. The environment and your experience changes daily when exercising outdoors, stimulating your mind! In contrast, the gym is a very consistent environment of workout machines. This more interesting outdoor environment helps to keep your mind occupied, and off the work at hand; boosting your workout by helping you to stay engaged longer and be more committed to your routine.

Exercising outside also helps to burn more calories. When you use an exercise machine, it does part of the pace and movement for you. When you are running, biking or power walking outside, you provide all the momentum, and your body must face resistance from the wind and terrain providing more obstacles.

Just as important as the motivating factor, the outside also has huge mental benefits. A study in Japan, followed adults participating in walks and viewing forests, known as “forest bathing”. The results showed that natural environments promoted lower blood pressure and lower concentrations of cortisol (a hormone released during stress). Exposure to the outdoors and natural light during physical activity is also known to increase Vitamin D and serotonin (a neurotransmitter) levels; helping to boost your immune system, improve your sleep and feelings of well-being and happiness.

Reap the healing powers of being among nature and trees! Reduce stress, and help to motivate yourself by adding some weekly outdoor exercise to your routine.

  • Christopher Edwin Nuzzaco/Shutterstock

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