Benefits of Outdoor Workouts

Written by: Kelly Fay, MS Kinesiology, MA Performance Psychology

It’s a beautiful day outside and your first thought is to enjoy the sunlight. As soon as the sun sparkles on your face, you notice you are smiling. Being outside seems to make us happy- that is obvious- but is there an actual scientific reason for this? The following are benefits of being outside, and get this, they are backed by science! What is happening to your body to ignite that lightness found outside? Keep reading to find out…

Become a Happier, Less Stressed Out Version of Yourself

Sweating outside is said to boost your mood during and long after you leave the rays of sunlight behind. Mother Nature has the ability to enhance your mood so much that stress is likely to slip away as the fresh air fills your lungs. In an Australian-based study, researchers found those who exercised outdoors had a higher dose of serotonin, the hormone associated with mood. What’s more? Following the outside sweat session, endorphins were way up, especially in a setting with an overload of greenery (3). A bonus? Working out outside is free, ridding yourself of a bill should be enough to lessen your stress levels.

Boost Your Immune System

If you spend an average of 30 minutes each day under the sun, expect your blood pressure to improve greatly, due to the greater output of energy experienced during an outside workout (2). Moreover, those who walked outside for two hours a week were found to produce more cells that fought off bacteria.

You’ll Burn More Calories

Let the wind guide you, or in this case add resistance to your workout! According to Journal of Sport Sciences, wind resistance can substantially increase your calorie burn during a workout (1). Moreover, just being outside will allow you to burn more calories. Happier spirits lead to more energy! Meaning, you are likely to workout out longer to maximize your time spent in beautiful surroundings.

Get Your Vitamin D Intake the Natural Way

Our friendly sun offers so much natural goodness when used properly, there is no way to deny its benefits. Vitamin D is a major nutrient required for a human to function properly and a deficiency in this vitamin can present bone problems and autoimmune disorders. Luckily, we are able to effortlessly absorb the natural illumination from the sun, filling our Vitamin D needs!

Get Outside BUT be Safe About it! 

Water. Water. Water. Did I mention water? With the summer temperatures consistently higher than other seasons, be mindful of your water intake as it will likely be higher than your normal intake during the other seasons. Don’t apply less than 30 SPF and make sure to lather your whole body not just the visible parts. A hat and glasses are critical during the scorching months in order to avoid eye and skin damage. Know when you have had enough and find shade or go inside altogether. Stay safe but enjoy Mother Nature and all her benefits!

References:

(1)   Jones, A. M., & Doust, J. H. (1996). A 1% treadmill grade most accurately reflects the energetic cost of outdoor running. Journal of sports sciences, 14(4), 321-327.

(2) Shanahan, D. F., Bush, R., Gaston, K. J., Lin, B. B., Dean, J., Barber, E., & Fuller, R. A. (2016). Health benefits from nature experiences depend on dose. Scientific Reports, 6, 28551.

(3) Stewart, B., Edwards, D., & Warner, J. (2013). Paleo Fitness: A Primal Training and Nutrition Program to Get Lean, Strong and Healthy. Ulysses Press.

Kelly Fay is Health Fitness Specialist for Corporate Fitness Works. She has a M.S. in Kinesiology and Exercise Science, and M.A. in Sport Psychology and Performance. Kelly enjoys writing about fitness and travel and is an established contributor for several online publications.

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