Are you in an exercise rut? Do you want to get more from your workouts, but don’t know where to begin? A change of scenery might be just what you need.
Instead of hitting the gym for another treadmill run, consider taking your next workout outside. In addition to shaking up your routine, you’ll also experience the following four great benefits:
1. Strengthen Your Immune System
Research has shown that there is a positive correlation between the amount of green space in a person’s environment and their overall health. Spending time in nature and exposing yourself to fresh air, grass, and trees helps boost your immune system.
Scientists believe this is the case because phytoncides, the airborne chemicals emitted by plants to protect themselves from fungi, bacteria, and insects, are also beneficial for human health.
One study even found that people who take two-hour walks in the forest have seen the levels of their natural killer cells (cells that fight off invaders like bacteria and viruses) rise by up to 50 percent.
2. Get More Vitamin D
Contrary to what food manufacturers would have you believe, the best way to get Vitamin D is not from fortified foods — it’s from the sun itself.
If you expose your skin regularly to the sunshine (in controlled amounts, of course), you’ll improve your body’s ability to produce Vitamin D.
Vitamin D is essential for strengthening the bones and preventing conditions like osteoporosis and rickets. There’s also a connection between a deficiency in vitamin D and several different autoimmune diseases, as well as cancer, metabolic syndrome, depression, and heart disease.
3. Burn More Calories
You can actually burn more calories by doing the same activities outdoors that you do indoors. This is because, when you’re running or walking outside, your body experiences more stress from changes in the temperature and terrain.
Road runners also tend to burn more calories than treadmill runners because they have to fight against wind resistance.
In addition to helping you increase your calorie burn, outdoor workouts also help you avoid injury. When you exclusively use gym equipment like treadmills and ellipticals, it’s easy to slip into poor movement patterns that can cause overuse injuries.
When you’re constantly adapting to changes in terrain while walking, hiking, or running, you have to break your bad habits. This adaptation also strengthens the connective tissue to reduce the likelihood of injuries.
4. Save Money
Finally, exercising outdoors is a great option for people who want to save money. Instead of paying for a monthly gym membership, you can invest in some good running shoes or hiking boots and get your workout in while you explore the great outdoors.
If you’re worried about building strength without access to a gym, don’t underestimate the effectiveness of bodyweight exercises. Push-ups, sit-ups, planks, and pull-ups are all great exercises that can be done anywhere.
Tips for Getting Outside More Often
Ok, so you’re convinced that working out outside is good for you. But, what exactly should you be doing? Here are some fun ideas to help you get outside and find something you love to do.
Run on a trail or through your neighborhood: Research shows outdoor running is more difficult and can increase your strength and endurance.
Take a hike: This is a great low-impact alternative to outdoor running — grab a knee brace for outdoor activities if you’re recovering from any injuries.
Go kayaking or canoeing: Enjoy nature, work your upper body, and get your heart rate up at the same time!
Take lightweight dumbbells or kettlebells outside: Sometimes a change of scenery is all you need. Head to the park or even your backyard for your favorite resistance workout.
Go rock climbing: If you live close to rock formations, take advantage of them and do some climbing (be sure to find a group or an experienced to take you if you’re new — safety first!)
If you’re feeling uninspired during your workouts, you might want to head outside and shake things up a bit. Give an outdoor sweat session a try today — it won’t take long for you to start feeling better, burning more calories, and saving money!