It had been a while since I had taken my exercise outdoors and I cannot express in words how much I enjoyed it. When I lived in Tucson, Arizona, I was a daily hiker at Tumamoc, a mid size hill in the central west side of the city. The health benefits I experienced were beyond physical. Exposing myself to the outdoors also brought mental health benefits, not just toned legs.
In the city I live now, I have found many beautiful and hidden trails that I have enjoyed but I hadn’t found one that challenged me quite like I wanted until a couple of days ago. I found a hill that led to a city view at its summit and one that left me without air as I climbed the tough incline. It was perfect! It reminded me of Tumamoc. It was when I reached the summit that I realized what I needed a little more of in my life. A little more sun, a bigger challenge, some fresh air, a city view, some vitamin D, and some more greenery for my eyes.
Here is why I decided I will be taking my exercise outdoors a couple of times a week this spring and summer…
Benefits of Exercising Outside
1. You burn more calories
Sometimes the body needs a challenge and when we change routines, we are more inclined to pushing ourselves harder. Besides, the terrain comes with incline changes that our body needs for that extra push to burn more calories.
2. You get more vitamin D
We need our bodies to absorb calcium from vitamin D so that we can have strong bones. There is no better way to absorbing vitamin D than through direct skin sunlight when we exercise outdoors. So if you spend most of your day inside a building, get out and start absorbing that sunlight. About 15-20 minutes of exposure is recommended depending on skin color.
3. It boosts your mood
Exercising outside boosts our mood and improves our self-esteem. Studies have shown that just 5 minutes of walking in nature and being exposed to greenery, will have a positive effect on our mental health. Those who are exposed to bodies of water saw even better results. Find the nearest park, hill, lake, or trail and notice how your mood improves.
4. It feels less routine
Even if we repeat the same trail, we have the choice to change-up the routine. Following different trails or even starting at the opposite end, will make the workout a bit more interesting and less routine than the gym. You can even change-up the run/walk intervals and add sets of squats or lunges in between.
5. You breathe fresh air
If you are indoors all day, you already know how nice it is to go outside and breathe fresh air. A benefit of breathing fresh air is that it supplies oxygen which is needed by our brain and cells. This also is a benefit because it helps our brain have clarity. Of course in a city with much pollution, getting fresh air might be a little hard to do. In this case, try to find a nearby mountain to hike on the weekends and enjoy that dose of fresh and clean air.
6. You’ll go longer
Time flies when you aren’t looking at your treadmill’s timer. You will find that time travels much faster when the environment is your distraction. You will be less inclined to counting down minutes or squats you have to go because your attention will be on the scenery instead.
7. Save Money
We all know gym memberships are not cheap! And if you aren’t one who takes advantage and shows up frequently, than it may be a waste of money. Taking fitness outdoors can save money for those who are looking to keep a little extra cash in their pockets.
Do you like exercising outside? Or do you prefer to stay indoors?