Green Exercise: Because the Best Way to Work Out is Outside

As the weather warms up, you may want to consider cancelling your gym membership and moving your workouts to the great outdoors. “Green exercise,” or exercise done outside, has health benefits – both physical and psychological.

A better workout

When you exercise outside, you don’t have the luxury of smooth, flat terrain. Running up and down hills will help you burn more calories and can’t be replicated on a treadmill. When you run on a treadmill, you aren’t getting the same benefits as running outside since the machine is always doing a certain amount of the work. You have to do all the work when you run outside, therefore, you end up getting a better workout.

Wind resistance is another factor that makes green exercise a better option. In fact, it can increase your workload by 2-10% when running or biking. As your speed increases, so does the air resistance, making you work harder and leading to a more effective workout.

Having a variety of weight machines at your disposal in the gym might seem great, but when it comes to staying in shape, body weight exercises are just as effective. While exercise machines usually isolate the muscles you’re working out, body weight exercises tend to engage your entire body. You can even ramp up your green exercise regimen with some outdoor equipment. This equipment is built to weather the elements and can help you get the best outdoor workout possible.

Get some Vitamin D

Our bodies need Vitamin D to help absorb calcium and maintain phosphorus levels. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteomalacia (softening of the bones), as well as kidney disease, lung disorders, diabetes, stomach and intestine problems and heart disease.

Our bodies can’t produce Vitamin D naturally, which means we need to get it from other sources. The best source of Vitamin D is the sun. As little as 10 minutes of exposure to sunlight every day can be enough to prevent deficiency in adults.

Even better, getting out in the sun can help improve your mood. Some studies suggest that getting enough Vitamin D is the key to preventing seasonal depression.

Have a better mentality

Spending some time in nature can also have a positive effect on your psychological well-being. Being outside is relaxing and helps restore focus. In fact, moving your workout outdoors can reduce your rating of perceived exertion, meaning that you’ll be able to work out harder and longer without feeling like you’re doing more work.

Exercising outside is generally more enjoyable than working out inside. It adds variety to your workout and can help you have a better attitude about exercising. People are more likely to want to work out when they do it outside, as opposed to going to the gym. It’s even been found to increase self-esteem, reduce stress and ebb mental fatigue.

Now that summer is quickly approaching, there’s no reason not to switch up your workout routine and enjoy the great outdoors. Your body and mind will thank you.

Focht, B. C. (2009). Brief walks in outdoor and laboratory environments: Effects on affective responses, enjoyment, and intentions to walk for exercise. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 80(3), 611-20.

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