Even if you’re a seasoned gym junkie, the benefits of outdoor exercise are well documented, compelling, and likely to make you reconsider your safety net of the treadmill. So why head out in all weathers?
1) Vitamin D
It’s well known that we Brits don’t get enough vitamin D. Deficiency in this crucial vitamin has been linked to low mood, pelvic floor dysfunction (who knew?!), fatigue and bone disease, as vitamin D plays a crucial role in calcium absorption. Getting your workout fix outdoors ensures you stay topped up.
2) Antidote to the office
Let’s be honest – the vast majority of us spend the vast majority of our time at work, and the vast majority of jobs are office based. So who wants to be cooped up five days a week working, and then take our leisure time inside too? Exercising outdoors is just what you need before or after a long day at your desk.
3) Fewer germs / sweat
I’m sure it’s not just me who finds the gyms a bit unsanitary! Something about the sweatiness, and recycled air, and changing rooms. Ewww! Don’t get me wrong – gyms serve a great purpose, but given the choice between heading out for a run or jumping on a treadmill, there’s no contest.
4) Improved mood / mental health
Numerous studies have shown the link between being in nature and a reduction in depression. Getting outside will enhance your mood year round. Whether it’s simply popping out for a walk, taking advantage of public tennis courts, or joining an outdoor exercise class, the benefit to your mental health is not insignificant. Adding a short daily walk to your routine is almost certainly more achievable than trying to get to the gym three times a week, and therefore a better place to start if you’re looking to boost your mood.
5) Low cost – perhaps?
Unless you’re a seasoned workout-at-home type, most indoor exercise options (gym, group classes) cost more than the majority of outdoor options:
– Running costs nothing and can be done pretty much anywhere.
– There’s an increasing number of parks that have exercise equipment (such as pull up bars), trim trails, skate parks.
– And whilst not feasible for everyone, using your bike for commuting saves money on petrol or public transport, as well as improving your cardiovascular fitness.
Of course there are paid outdoor options (such as my Women’s Outdoor Workouts), and numerous bootcamp companies operating in every location, but most of these compare favourably to your average gym membership, because you’re not usually tied in for a year.
6) Changing environment
Exercising outside is more challenging for your body than being within four walls. Compare running, or even just walking, on a treadmill versus pounding around a park, or farm track. And when you factor in wind, random obstacles and varying temperatures, it’s clear that you have to make many more adaptations when you take your workout outside. Changing stimuli are incredibly important for brain health too, so it’s not just your body that benefits from a varied workout.
7) Post workout satisfaction
Studies have shown a greater increase in energy and a reduction in tension when exercising outside, compared with the same workout inside. And even the most fair weather exerciser cannot deny the incredible feeling of achievement when you get home after a particular soggy session. Something about really earning a lovely hot shower, or a long soak in the bath!
If this has convinced you to get outdoors then there are loads of options available to you. You could try a “couch to 5k” programme if you fancy something free. Or look into a varied group programme such as my Women’s Outdoor Workouts (www.lovefittraining.com/wow).