We all know that exercise is vital for our health – both mental and physical health. Many of us work out in our own homes, and many prefer a gym setting with people and exercise equipment galore. That said, have you ever thought about exercising outdoors? You may not know it, but there are many different benefits of outdoor exercise. Let’s find out what they are.
Although it’s not a health benefit, the fact is that exercising outdoors is free of cost. A gym membership can cost upward of $100 per month, and that really starts to add up as the months and years wear on. Exercising outdoors in your backyard, in a park, at the beach, or just running on the sidewalk is completely free.
It Can be Quite Social
Have you ever noticed how when you go to the gym, everybody is usually in their own little worlds, usually blasting music through their headphones? The gym, although it’s always packed with people, is not a very social place. Moreover, exercising at home is not very social either.
If you exercise outdoors, you are getting out into the world, and that means meeting people. Meeting new people can go a long way in reducing loneliness and depression.
If you want to meet new people and exercise with them, but don’t know how to go about it, then a sports league might be ideal. You don’t have to play like a pro, but outdoor soccer, football, or baseball league might be what you need.
It Can Be a Real Challenge
Yes, it is true that at a gym, you have access to various equipment, both for cardio and strength training. However, what is always consistent at the gym is the flat terrain. Unless you ramp up the incline on the treadmill, you are always on flat ground at the gym.
Your body eventually gets used to this, and the challenge becomes less, thus benefiting your less. However, if you exercise outdoors, you can take advantage of the terrain, particularly uneven terrain and elevation changes. It’s different, it keeps you on your toes, and it challenges your body more as well.
It Alleviates Anxiety and Depression
One of the things that both exercise and being outdoors are well known for is reducing anxiety and depression. People who run often talk about the runner’s high, which is an energetic feeling of elation and happiness, a huge rush, so to speak.
That is because exercise causes the brain to create and release increased amounts of dopamine and serotonin, two necessary brain chemicals that make you feel better.
Simply put, they are mood regulators that make you feel happier. In fact, exposure to sunlight and fresh air has much the same effect of increased dopamine and serotonin production. Therefore, combing the outdoors with exercise is a fantastic way to minimize depression and anxiety.
A Change of Scenery
The gym can be fun for a while to watch the people who work out in funny ways, and, of course, the exercise machines usually have televisions. Eventually, it is going to get boring. You see the same machines, the same lockers, and the same sweaty people day after day. Going outdoors to exercise will provide you with a nice change of scenery. We think this a massive benefit all on its own.
Not as Smelly
Although it may not be one of the main selling points, something else to consider is that the gym, particularly the locker room, can be pretty smelly. Some people may not mind, but others certainly do. The fresh-cut grass and the flowers in a nice park certainly smell better than that sweaty guy on the treadmill next to you.
Stress and Insomnia Relief
For the same reason why outdoor exercise helps relieve depression and anxiety, it can also help relieve stress and insomnia. Those stress-reducing and mood-regulating brain chemicals help in terms of general mood and happiness.
Although these are not the only benefits associated with outdoor exercise, they are certainly some of the biggest ones.