Physical activity is the key to reaching your prime health and fitness goals. When paired with a healthy lifestyle, it makes us stronger, happier and better equipped to ward off heart disease, cancer and diabetes, along with infectious diseases.
That’s the reason why so many of us go to the gym day in and day out. But exercising outside when possible multiplies the good that’s happening when we’re running on a treadmill or following a YouTube class at home.
Physical exercise generates many positive mental health effects such as reducing stress, anxiety and depression, but outdoor activity may be especially good at boosting self-esteem. Research from the University of Essex found that “green exercise” led to better moods and higher self-esteem in all age groups, with the change most pronounced in children, young adults and those who’d been diagnosed with a mental illness.
Viva la challenge!
We understand that the whole point of indoor fitness is to do what we need to do in a climate-controlled setting, but when you do that most of the other rough edges are smoothed out as well. In the great outdoors you encounter a variety of surfaces and conditions forcing you to constantly focus and adjust your approach. This sharpens your mind and varies your movements to help you avoid repetitive-motion injuries.
Feel the burn!
All those little challenges on our outdoor escapades add up to additional calories burned, on top of the fact we tend to work out longer and more vigorously when we are outside. At least one study from Ohio State University has found runners tend to run at a faster pace outside than on a treadmill, but feel they haven’t exerted themselves as much as they did on the treadmill.
Outdoor air quality is often better than what you’re likely to breathe inside buildings, even in larger metro areas with higher levels of air pollution, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.