5 Reasons You Should Take Your Workout Outdoors
Jennifer Jones, Health & Nutrition Consultant, Fitness Specialist, CPT
When the clocks get pushed up an hour, you start to hear the birds chirping and see the flowers blooming and the weather is just impeccable, you know Spring has sprung! It’s like an automatic invitation to get outdoors and soak it all up! I love being outside surrounded by nature and besides the gym, there’s no better place to get a great workout. So here are some of the benefits to breaking a sweat outdoors at least once a week.
SOAK IT ALL UP
Let’s start with the sun and how it provides us with a vital nutrient called Vitamin D. Vitamin D plays a crucial role in maintaining our body’s bone, heart and hormonal health so it’s important that we get adequate amounts. Now you may be wondering how we get this vital nutrient from the sun. Well, without getting too scientific, once our skin is exposed to the sun by the ultraviolet B rays (UVB), our skin absorbs it and magically converts that into Vitamin D3. Pretty cool right?! This is done rather quickly once being exposed to the sun and the body can produce up to 10,000 to 25,000 IU of Vitamin D when large portions of the body are visible. Not bad when certain studies suggest that most adult should strive for at least 4,000-10,000 IU of Vitamin D daily. So go ahead and soak up the sun and get your daily dose of Vitamin D the natural way!
BREATHE IT ALL IN
Now that the sun has graced your skin and you’re reaping the healthy benefits, it’s time to open up those lungs and receive more oxygen! Not only do the trees that surround us provide a beautiful scenery…another bonus of taking your workout outdoors, they also provide us with a little significant element called oxygen! You know, that little chemical that helps keep us alive! Well, increased oxygen intake during a workout is very beneficial for you and your training sessions too. When you consume more oxygen during a workout, you’re allowing your brain and muscles to receive the oxygen they need to perform at an optimal level while giving you more energy. And more energy = a better workout which leads me to my next point. So breathe in and fill those lungs with the fresh outdoor air! *Although I’m not too sure how fresh our air is these days L but that’s a post for another day.
Unless you work out in a box gym where there’s little to no air conditioning, most gyms keep you comfortable and cool with an AC. But like the saying goes, “great things never come from our comfort zones” which is why it’s good to change it up every now and then and explore the great outdoors. Typically we burn more calories when working out outside too because our bodies have to adjust to certain elements like the wind and uneven surfaces like dips and hills. When your body has to adapt to these changes, it engages different muscles which raises the overall metabolic burn. Also, from the previous two points listed above we see that, more oxygen + more energy + a natural thermogenic (the sun) = a great burn! So get to sweating!
Exercise alone has been proven to significantly improve our overall mental health. Take that same exercise outside and the benefits increase significantly. Outdoor exercise improves your mood by increasing the release of those feel good endorphins that help to clear your mind and reduce tension, anxiety and depression. By being outside and taking in the beauty of nature and its elements, you feel revitalized and reenergized. I can say first hand that if I’m ever having a bad day, it’s always been made better by sweating outside and there’s no better feeling than after a great outdoor workout.
Nature’s options are endless when it comes to the beautiful outdoors. Have fun with it! Hit the beach, go to the park, run the bleachers, hit the track, take a hike, find a trail or lake; the possibilities are endless. Other than the added weight (dumbbells, etc.), most of the exercises done inside a gym can easily be transferred to the outdoors. Besides, working with your own body weight doing functional movements is considered safer and more effective.
Now envision your skin is glistening with sweat, your lungs are open, you’re getting a vital nutrient naturally and the scenery is amazing! Who wouldn’t want to take their workout outdoors?! Take advantage of what nature provides us while we can and experience the euphoria that happens when we appreciate our environment and our health!
Health & Happiness,