I love being able to exercise outside. I can curse and dread the treadmill all winter long, and come up with dozens of excuses why I don’t need to run today but as soon as the sun shines, the snow melts and the weather warms up, I am all over running outside! Strange, hey? For 7-8 months of the year I ‘hate’ running, yet for the other 4-5 months I love it.
What I love about working out outside is that I can feel the breeze and sunshine on my face, and I can take in the sounds and sights of nature around me. Some of my most cherished early morning runs along the river involve the rare sight of a family of deer feasting on the foliage.
Boot camp in the park is another absolute favorite of mine (and why I decided to become a fitness instructor). I love being in the open field with fun and excited people like you; it seems like people are just happier when they’re outside. But, is working out outside actually better for your health than being in a gym?
Being out in nature is known to reduce stress and improve mental clarity far better than being indoors. Exercise is a great stress management activity but sometimes you need a bit more to really get over something that’s bothering you. Had a really crappy day at work? Get outside and do boot camp or go for a bike ride!
Sunshine helps produce vitamin D, the happy vitamin, in our bodies, so getting outside when there is still daylight to be seen can improve mood and ward off sadness and depression.
If you exercise in a park or forest, where there are a lot of trees, you’ll be exposing yourself to some very fresh air. Sure, the cities have smog and other pollutants in the air (so I don’t advise running or cycling along a busy street) but trees naturally filter out carbon dioxide from our air and emit clean, fresh oxygen-rich air that’s invigorating and cleansing for our bodies.
Exposure to grass and other plants can help boost our immune systems, too. Plants give off natural chemicals to protect themselves from bacteria and other nasty stuff so if we breathe those chemicals in, our immune systems use these to produce more cells that fend off bacteria and fungus in our bodies.
You’ll likely burn more calories, too, when you work out outside. The terrain is constantly shifting and wind resistance makes you use more energy to push through. Your small muscles that help with balance get more of a workout when you exercise on uneven ground, a huge benefit for when you’re maneuvering icy roads or slick sidewalks later in the year.
Finally, exercising outside generally doesn’t cost you a lot of money. You can run on the paths, cycle around the park, or set up your own strength routine using a children’s play structure.
This spring, why not get outside more often and join in a group fitness program? Boot camp in the park is a great way to meet new people, improve your endurance and agility, and just have a blast!