I have a love/hate relationship with exercise. In the winter, there were so many excuses: it’s snowing, too cold, and very hard to keep the fire burning. All the excuses that go on in my mind can be blamed on sheer laziness. I am sure most of you can relate. But now that the weather is getting nicer (hello, open-air brunch spots!), there are much more reasons to ditch the gym and take your fitness routine outdoors. Looking for a way to feel good and look good in a bikini at the same time? Me too. There are many benefits to outdoor exercise.
First of all, it is best to mix up your gym routine on a daily basis; routines are great when it comes to other things, but not our workouts. They can easily get redundant and boring. I have rounded up five key reasons why you should get out and take advantage of the outdoors during these next few months.
Running, walking, or cycling outdoors burns more calories—it’s a fact. It is the wind’s resistance that creates the extra burn. Uphill battle, uneven ground, and slopes force your body to contend with the unknown, thereby burning more calories. It’s a win-win.
Real talk: there’s a clear connection between stress reduction and spending time outdoors. Plus, fresh air and increased oxygen help release the feel-good brain chemical, serotonin. So, your outdoor training sessions not only help keep you fit and healthy, but they put you in a fantastic mood as well!
Speaking of mood enhancement, it helps even more if your surroundings are always changing. No matter how many times you change your playlist on the treadmill, running on it over and over does get a bit dull. The beauty of exercising outdoors is the space you’re in. Running through different scenery means you have a lot to look at, so you’re less likely to get bored and end up exercising for longer (almost by accident!) Not only that…when it’s sunny, who wants to be cooped up in a gym?
Dana Intravaia, IntraFit & Nutrition, personal trainer, and group fitness leader loves hitting the outdoors and here’s why: she says, “Just a change of scenery can be very motivating. You need to mix it up so you don’t get bored and hit a plateau. Taking it outside can drive you to go harder and try something different.”
Research shows that that the average American spends 87 percent of their time in enclosed buildings and six percent in vehicles. That’s a total of 93 percent of your life spent inside, and this is an unhealthy way to live. Hard to avoid, yes, especially when you live in the city environs.
Increasing your vitamin D levels is important, as researchers have pointed out that increasing levels of vitamin D3 among the general population could prevent chronic diseases that claim nearly one million lives throughout the world each year. An incidence of several types of cancer could also be slashed in half. “I firmly believe that appropriate sun exposure is the best way to optimize your vitamin D levels, and the more time you spend outdoors, the easier it will be for you to naturally keep your vitamin D levels in the therapeutic range of 50-70 ng/ml., ” says Dr Mercola, an alternative medicine proponent, osteopathic physician, and web entrepreneur.
Now is the time to get creative. Look around you as parks are filled with open spaces that will help you tone muscle for free. Run on hills; it’s a great way of getting maximum results, particularly as sprinting is one of the most effective ways to burn fat. Short, sharp bursts of movement at an incline will help push you to the limit while also building and toning muscle. Plus, local parks and green spaces are home to a wide range of objects that can double up as exercise equipment. Do triceps dips or step-ups on a park bench. Pretend trees are orange cones and maneuver in between them for a change. Tune into your creative self for some fun and you’ll see surprising results.
When it comes to fitness, the more the merrier. Exercising with a friend is not only more fun, but the benefits are endless. According to Phyique 57, an indoor fitness studio’s blog, working out with a friend keeps you accountable – you’ve got to show up and bring it. Doing it with a friend pushes you to give your workout everything you’ve got and push past your comfort zone. Something to look forward to while working out with a buddy is the fun you’ll have together in class and the time you get afterward to catch up. Use the buddy system as a time to connect with a friend, try a new class, and reward yourself afterward.
Either way you look at it, there’s a good chance you will find me reaping the benefits of the outdoors!
Written by Stephanie Unter
Feature image via Huff Post