Exercise Outdoors [10 Important Benefits]

Exercise Outdoors benefits

Exercise is an activity that commonly evokes images of gyms and other fitness facilities, but there is so much more to exercise than a gym can offer. Constant input from commercials and various advertisements has conditioned us to believe that gyms are the best place to build our fitness, however, that is not always true.

The great outdoors is great for a reason. That name alludes to the variety of benefits nature has to offer, including exercise. When we exercise outdoors we feel more relaxed, have less pain, get vitamin D, burn more calories, and more. 

The positive impacts of exercising outdoors are linked to our ancestral bond with nature, and you may be surprised by how powerful these benefits are.

The benefits of time spent outdoors are limitless, so we have cumulated the top ten reasons to start exercising outdoors. Let’s explore how the environment can bring your exercising experience to the next level!

1. The World Is Your Gym

world is your gym

When you exercise outdoors the world becomes your gym. There is no time wasted on a 15-minute car ride to the nearest workout center or membership needed, all you have to do is step out your front door!

This factor is important because it makes exercise feel more accessible and there is less room for excuses. It is easy to feel like getting ready and catching a bus or getting gas to go to the gym are too much of a hassle.

Often, you may even arrive at the gym and already feel exhausted from the ordeal of traveling there, but that is never the case when it comes to exercising outdoors. There is only one step involved, and that step is through your front door.

Tip: Not everyone lives in or near an outdoor area that is perfectly suited to the form of exercise they like to perform, but that doesn’t have to get in the way. If you find an area you like to exercise in you can warm up by walking, jogging, or even biking to your preferred workout space. 

Not only will this give you more time outdoors, but it adds to the variety and quality of your workout. Even if you just step outside for a walk around the block or do yoga in your backyard, you are still using the world as your gym and get a better workout because of it.

2. Challenging Terrain 

Natural Variety add challenges

When you want to add intensity to a treadmill run you add incline and for cycling, you add resistance, but when you are outdoors the world will add those challenges for you. One of the most beautiful things about nature is its variety and that is exactly why the outdoors make the perfect space for a workout.

If you are looking to intensify walks you can choose steeper paths or you can make runs less impactful on joints by choosing softer ground. The more time you spend outdoors, the more you will notice the diversity of terrain in the world around you. 

With such variety, there is no limit to how gentle or intense you can make each activity to be because the world will always provide more options.

3. Time in the Sun

Sunlight benefits

Even on cloudy days, the sky is offering you a health benefit that no gym can, UVB. These rays from the sun interact with our skin, giving us the ability to produce vitamin D and creating positive chemical reactions in the brain.

Vitamin D serves to keep our bones healthy and aid in the digestion of calcium, a key nutrient for everyday function and skeletal integrity. This benefit turns working out in nature into a physically healthy activity in multiple ways.

The sunlight also serves to keep us mentally healthy. Studies have shown that exposure to the rays of the sun causes an increase in the production of serotonin, a hormone that works to stabilize our mood and fight anxiety. A bit of time exercising in the sun creates an impact that you can feel in both your brain and body.

4. Natural Exercise Enhancement

Burn Calories exercise outdoors

Studies have shown that individuals are more likely to burn a greater amount of calories when exercising outdoors compared to indoors. It is believed that this results from a combination of factors, including temperature and terrain, but that it is mostly a result of a personal increase in exercise intensity.

That’s right, you are more likely to walk faster when you are choosing your own pace outdoors than you would if you were choosing a pace to set on a treadmill.

This goes for all forms of outdoor exercise, making the physical interaction experienced by exercising outdoors a simple way to increase your effort.

5. Less Pain, More Gains

Less Pain outdoors

If you are someone who loves the benefits of physical activity, but really struggles with the discomfort and intensity experienced during the activity then you are in for a pleasant surprise.

Not only has research shown that being outdoors is a natural way to increase exercise intensity, but it has also shown that outdoor exercise decreases discomfort and improves endurance.

It is thought that this benefit stems from the distractions and positive feelings generated by the outdoor environment. For example, when you are running through a park it is much easier to take your mind off the intensity of running.

Instead, you naturally focus on the path your taking or the beautiful flowers you see. This is especially true when you compare it to running on a treadmill in a rather featureless and unchanging space.

6. More Clean Air 

clean air outdoors

The ability to breathe clean air easily is what sustains any workout. In gyms, the air can often feel hot, dry, and recycled which makes breathing more difficult. This is especially true when masks are required in a gym space.

These restrictions on breathing are direct limitations on the quality of your workout as well, but luckily they do not exist outdoors. As long as there are no poor air quality warnings in your area you can always count on easy and comfortable breathing when exercising outdoors.

Tip: If you have seasonal or environmental allergies be sure to take any allergy medications or other preventative measures you need before exercising outdoors.

7. Limitless Group Exercise Space

large groups outdoors

Exercising in a group is a fun way to pass the time. You can increase intensity through competition, socialize, and gain support. When you exercise outdoors there are no walls or limited spaces to restrict how many people you exercise with.

This attribute makes exercising outdoors the perfect opportunity to organize a group and enjoy all the benefits of the outdoors while participating in a unifying activity.

8. No Gym Means No Gym Anxiety

less anxiety outdoors

Gym anxiety is the feeling that you don’t belong, that other people are looking, or that you aren’t doing something correctly. It is a fairly common experience and it can inhibit you from getting the most out of your workout.

When you work out outdoors there is no closed environment to cause a feeling of anxiety. Studies have shown that people actually feel more relaxed after exercising in nature and that a majority of that decrease in anxiety and an increase in positive emotions happens within the first 5 minutes.

A little time working out in the environment is a simple way to trade anxieties for a sense of peace and positivity.

9. The Perfect Atmosphere For Your Exercise Needs

range of temperatures outdoors

The change in weather that occurs in many parts of the world can be seen in two ways, but when you put it in a positive light it can actually improve your ability to exercise.

A fluctuation in temperature can provide colder days well suited for cardio-based activity, while hotter days provide the perfect opportunity for strength or water-related exercise. A drastic change of seasons can be used as an opportunity to take on a variety of outdoor exercises, ranging from walking and tennis to snowshoeing and ice skating.

By changing up your forms of exercise with the weather you are more likely to work a wider range of muscles for an even healthier lifestyle!

Tip: Rain is a great way to cool off during high-intensity activities as long as you are cautious. However, you can always use rainy days as a sign that your body deserves some rest.

10. The Ideal Place to Cool Down

Cool Down outdoors

Cooling down is the best way to end every exercise. It provides the body with an opportunity to gradually relax and stretch to avoid future soreness or injury. When you exercise outdoors you normally cool down and stretch outdoors, which is one of the best places for this final form of activity.

Tests have shown that the calming atmosphere of the outdoors can lower heart rates faster after exercise when compared to indoor cooldown periods. The outdoors also provide a variety of comfortable places to sit, stretch, and catch a breeze as you appreciate your body after a rewarding workout.

No matter how you exercise, the outdoors can benefit you in a variety of ways. Oh, and did I mention that it is completely free to exercise outdoors? The outdoors will be the best and cheapest gym you ever experience, so give it a try and experience these benefits for yourself!

Tip: Always be sure that you know the area you are exercising in, that you have a phone in case of emergencies, and that you feel safe. Safety should always come first in any form of exercise and outdoor workouts are no different.

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