The Mental and Physical Benefits of Exercising Outdoors
Most people know that regular exercise is good for your mental and physical health. It boosts strength, stamina, and mobility, and can reduce stress and improve your focus. No matter your personal health goals, exercising is a great way to stay in shape and boost your overall well-being.
However, if you’re spending all of your time in the gym or exercising indoors, you could be missing out on even greater benefits.
One of the ways to reap larger rewards from exercise is to do it outdoors. Taking your workouts outside can challenge your body in new ways, and boost your mental health even more than the physical activity itself.
The best part? There are plenty of ways to get active outside. You might end up finding your new favorite way to work out. Let’s take a closer look at why exercising outdoors is so great for your physical and mental health and some of the best ways to make the most of outdoor workouts.
Things like lifting weights and running on a treadmill are great, but you might end up experiencing bigger benefits by mixing up your workout routine and exercising outside a few days each week. When you change the terrain of your workout, you’re challenging your body in new and unexpected ways. If you do a lot of running on a treadmill or cycling on a spin bike, you might be burning a lot of calories, but you’re never doing anything different. Jogging or biking on rocky roads or rough terrain can add a completely new element to your workout that will keep you on your toes and allow you to use muscles you would never get to on a machine.
Maybe you don’t have any major fitness goals, but you exercise regularly to maintain your physical health. Exercising outdoors can give your body an even bigger boost. Studies have shown that outdoor workouts can help with things like:
- High blood pressure
- Vitamin D deficiencies
Exercising outdoors and challenging yourself can even reduce your risk of certain conditions, including spider veins. The varying terrain and countless activities you can try will improve blood flow and circulation, making it less likely for your veins to exhibit a “spider web” appearance.
Exercise is wonderful for your mental health, but simply being outdoors – no matter what you’re doing – can offer an even bigger boost. Some of the biggest mental health benefits you can experience from nature include:
- Reduced stress
- Boosted mood
- More energy
- Boosted confidence and self-esteem
Working out in nature can also improve your overall cognitive performance. Exercise often helps to reduce some of the negative effects of aging, such as brain shrinkage, communication issues, and mood disorders, but taking your workouts outside can help to improve your focus and reduce stress even more. Plus, you’re more likely to exercise with other people in an outdoor setting, which is great for keeping your brain healthy and fighting the effects of loneliness and isolation.
There’s some evidence that suggests exercise feels “easier” when you’re outside. It’s likely because there’s a perceived level of less exertion because you’re enjoying yourself more. What does that mean, exactly? Exercising outside makes you happier, so you might actually end up working out harder and reaching your health goals faster without even realizing it. As you reach those milestones, you’ll develop a stronger sense of accomplishment and boost your motivation to keep going and do more.
The sky is truly the limit when it comes to exercising outdoors. There’s no “wrong” way to stay active in nature, and there are countless things you can try. In fact, because there are so many possibilities for outdoor workouts, you’re less likely to get bored and give up. Sticking with a regimen is often one of the hardest parts of a fitness routine and reaching health goals. Switching up your routine and taking your endeavors outside can make a big difference.
Think about some of the activities you’d like to try, either on your own or with a group of friends. You might want to take up a solo sport like hiking or cycling. Or, you could join a community basketball or baseball league to play with others. There are even outdoor yoga classes that allow you to feel connected with other people while embracing your own space and the natural beauty surrounding you.
Exercising outdoors is free, easy, and available to everyone. Whether you already work out regularly or you’re trying to think of effective ways to start a routine, consider stepping outside and making the most of what nature has to offer. Be sure to dress appropriately for your local climate, stay as hydrated as possible, and don’t be afraid to have a new adventure – your mind and body will thank you!