You are forgiven for not training outside because of the terrible weather, but now that the weather is blissful, I hope that you find it easier to get outside, even just a tiny bit, and be more active. It is great news if you have increased your exercise and activity, because more physical activity will benefit your muscles, blood, heart, and lungs- say… pretty much all parts of your body. While it’s fun to go to the gym, I’ve come to find that going outside to exercise is much better. Running on the trails than on the treadmill is much better. The difference between running for an hour on a treadmill and running for an hour on the trails outside: the view.
Looking at pictures of nature has amazing effects on your body – it can lower your blood pressure, stress and mental fatigue. My friend, that is the power of nature. If you’re in your office and you’re reading this, close this window for a bit and change your desktop to a nature scene. I would prefer a nature scene that includes a body of water because according to research, images that contain water are a lot more restorative than those without.
However, if you have access to the world outside by all means, go out! Read on to know more about why this should be part of your health, energy and performance-enhancing life.
Exercising outdoors where you get to run under the sun and breathe fresh air has benefits that go above and beyond the benefits that you gain by exercising indoors. There have been exceptional improvements in an outdoor runner’s mental well-being, self-esteem and even depression. Do you have a moody teenager in your life? Invite him for an exercise session outside the house! I bet this is also the reason why my wife kicks me out of the house whenever stress from work takes its toll on me. I have come to find that trail-running helps me decompress and release stress much better than running for hours on the treadmill or even on the city’s busy streets. This is backed up by research as well. When a person is exposed to nature, levels of the stress hormone cortisol are decreased. Not only that, it also decreases resting heart rate and blood pressure.
What’s interesting about these studies is that more often than not, we think that exercise is only good for our bodies. Turns, out, exercise is just as good for our brains and our minds, and that going outside to exercise in the company of nature just amps up the benefits.
Lack of motivation is one of the many challenges that we face when it comes to exercise. Around fifty percent of people who go to the gym lose the motivation beyond the first year. However, people who exercise outside are more likely to stick with their exercise programs and are more consistent than those who train
indoors, according to a study done back in 2004. If you want to be more consistent, think of adding an outdoor workout to your routine.
Do you want to improve your immune system? Yes? Then that’s another reason for you to grab those shoes and start running outside! Exposure to plants and trees can do wonders for your immune system. According to some scientists, airborne chemicals that plants emit to shield themselves from fungus, bacteria, and insects, may also benefit humans. A study published in 2007 showed that people who walked for two hours in the forest had a fifty percent increase in the levels of their natural killer cells. While that sounds scary, take note that these are your cells and that they circulate throughout your body to kill bacteria, viruses, fungus and other invaders.
People who prefer walking and light activities over running and more intense activities are actually very lucky. According to the latest evidence, improvement in the measurements of revitalization, self-esteem, energy and pleasure, and a decrease in frustration, worry, confusion, depression, tension and tiredness are some of the benefits that people who like to walk outdoors get. On the contrary, it seems that running outdoors does not have that much of an impact on mood or emotions compared to running inside the house. This may be because running and other intense activities require the release of endorphins which then causesfeelings of elation and exhilaration – regardless of whether you run inside or outside.
Go outside if you want to feel better. You can try gardening, heading to the beach to surf, going to the lake over the weekend, or bike around town. No need to stress over whether or not you walk or run.