Getting your body moving provides well-documented benefits from a boosted mood to overall physical health. Take your workout outside, and you've just scored yourself some bonus benefits! How does exercising outside kick the positive gains up a notch?
A Stanford University study found that students who walked through a campus park for an hour were less anxious than those who didn’t. Another recent study highlighted that just looking at trees improves happiness. Also, it's our opinion that if you're outside, it feels a little less like the "exercise" you put on your to-do list and kinda dread. Even the most intense activities outside can feel like a total joy.
While the cost of gear can add up, you don’t really need much more than a good pair of shoes to get a solid workout in outside. Heck, you may just go barefoot if you're doing yoga or bodyweight routines. Any gear you might end up purchasing will get multiple uses, keeping the overall cost low. While we're at it, the cost is just one excuse that exercising outside cut back on – traffic, parking, crowds, creeps at the gym, etc.
Whether you’re walking, running, cycling, or hiking outside, your body is encountering a constantly changing environment which forces it to constantly adapt. According to the American Council on Exercise, this means your body is working harder than it might on a treadmill or stair machine where you're doing the same movement pattern repeatedly. And did we mention wind resistance?
This one is actually surprising. People who exercise outside are less likely to suffer injuries - mainly because of the constant variation of terrain (see “More Intensity” above). With the body consistently adapting to variations in the environment, the dynamic movement leads to stronger, more resilient muscles overall and reduces the likelihood of repetitive use injuries.
Having an extended amount of time outside when you’re not rushing around in your car will help you notice and appreciate your area. Additionally, outdoor exercisers are more likely to be social – whether it’s doing a group activity or interacting with passersby. What will you discover on your next walk around the neighborhood?
What benefits do you gain when you exercise outside? Tell us in the comments!
Gear Recommendations: A small investment can have a major impact on your outdoor exercise routine. A monthly subscription to Cairn delivers you fresh, full-sized products that are ready to hit the trail with you. Our recent Active Pursuits collection featured four Cairn Crew favorites perfectly suited for any outdoor fitness excursion:
BlackStrap Daily Tube – A multifunctional, breathable UV sun mask ideal for sweating in the outdoors. Wear it as a facemask, head covering, or neck protection.
Point6 Ghost Runner Ultra Light Sock – This highly popular sock features 37.5 technology, allowing the sock to use body heat to evaporate moisture in vapor form (BEFORE it becomes sweat).
Defunkify Active Wash Laundry Detergent – This EPA Safer Choice Certified detergent uses powerful enzymes to remove sweat and grime that gets trapped between technical activewear fibers.
Honey Stinger Organic Energy Gel – Stay fueled with a quick, delicious source of energy. This gel is gluten-free and made with organic tapioca syrup, organic honey, electrolytes and a blend of natural flavors