Boost Your Workout and Mood: The Surprising Benefits of Exercising Outdoors

If your exercise routine has become dull and monotonous, it might be missing the one vital ingredient that can fully energize both your mind and body. Don’t waste another minute on the treadmill or spinning your wheels in place on an exercise bike – it’s time to take your workout outside! According to researchers at Glasgow University, exercising outdoors can boost mood, alleviate mild depression, encourage a more positive outlook, and reduce stress. To truly experience your more invigorated and revitalized self, it’s time to ditch the gym and head into nature.

Outdoor vs. Indoor Exercise

Research has shown that the benefits of exercising in natural environments far outweigh those of indoor workouts. In one study, nearly 2,000 people were polled about their experiences with exercising indoors and outdoors. The results indicated that engaging in physical activity outside may increase mental health by a whopping 50%. Indoor workouts simply don’t provide the same benefits for your mental well-being.

Richard Mitchell, one of the researchers involved in the study, explains that being in areas with plenty of trees and grassy spaces helps to calm us down. He states, “I wasn’t surprised by the findings that exercise in natural environments is good for your mental health, but I was surprised by just how much better it is for your mental health to exercise in a green place like a forest, than in other places like the gym.”

The Benefits of Nature

Besides giving your mental health a much-needed boost, there are several other advantages to exercising outdoors. Here are just a few reasons why you should consider taking your workout outside:

  1. Variety: When you exercise outdoors, you have access to an almost infinite number of workout options. From trail running and hiking to outdoor yoga and bicycling, there’s no shortage of activities to choose from. And the constantly changing scenery can help add excitement and interest, so you don’t get bored with your workout routine.

  2. Vitamin D: Exercising outside allows you to soak up some essential vitamin D from the sun. This crucial nutrient helps maintain strong bones, support the immune system, and may even protect against some diseases. Just be sure to wear sunscreen and stay protected against UV rays.

  3. Improved sleep: Exposure to natural sunlight helps regulate your body’s internal clock. Consistently spending time outdoors during daylight hours can lead to improved sleep patterns and overall better sleep quality.

  4. Increased motivation: Along with the improved mental state that comes from outdoor exercise, you may also find that you feel more motivated to stick to your routine. Being surrounded by the beauty and tranquility of nature can inspire and motivate even the most reluctant exerciser.

  5. Cost-effective: Saving money is always a bonus, and outdoor workouts can often be much cheaper than gym memberships. Many parks offer free workout stations or open spaces for group classes, and there’s no need to invest in fancy, expensive equipment when you can utilize your natural surroundings.

Ideas for Outdoor Workouts

If you’re ready to take your workout outside but unsure of where to start, consider these outdoor exercise ideas to get you moving:

  • Running or walking: Going for a run or walk in the park or on a nature trail is a simple way to incorporate outdoor exercise into your routine. The varying terrain can challenge your body in new ways, and you’ll experience the mental benefits of being close to nature.

  • Outdoor yoga: Take your yoga practice outside for an invigorating and calming experience. Many practitioners find that the peace and serenity of nature enhance the benefits of their yoga practice.

  • Bodyweight exercises: Parks often have outdoor fitness stations with equipment like pull-up bars, parallel bars, and monkey bars that you can use to perform bodyweight exercises. These stations provide plenty of opportunity for a full-body workout without the need for any additional equipment.

  • Biking: Going for a bike ride is a low-impact, cardio workout that allows you to cover more distance than running or walking. Enjoy exploring new trails and paths in your local area and take in the scenic views along the way.

  • Boot camp-style classes: Many fitness trainers offer outdoor group classes that incorporate a mix of cardio, strength training, and HIIT (high-intensity interval training). Look for classes in nearby parks or green spaces and enjoy the camaraderie and motivation of working out with a group.

Don’t let a dull and uninspiring workout routine keep you from achieving your fitness goals. By taking your exercise outdoors, you’ll not only experience the mental health benefits of being in nature but also improve your overall well-being. It’s time to experience the revitalizing power of nature and fully embrace all the advantages that outdoor workouts have to offer.