We’ve all seen the rows upon rows of treadmills at the gym. But have you ever noticed that most people on the treadmill don’t look very happy? On the flip side, how many times have you passed a jogger or walker outdoors who has smiled, waved, or said hello to you as they passed by? Weird right? Well here are 4 scientifically proven reasons why you should be exercising outdoors.
- It Lowers Your Stress
You may have already heard the research proving that exercise is proven to lower stress levels. But did you know that exercising outdoors boosts this effect even more? A recent study published in the Journal of BioPsychoSocial Medicine
revealed that those who exercise out of doors experience lower cortisol levels (stress hormone), improved mood, and better cognitive ability at a level even higher than those who exercise indoors experience. The study goes on to mention that exercise in parks, green-space, and forest illicit even better results than those who exercise in an urban setting.
- You’ll Enjoy It More
If you are one of those people who dread going to the gym, this may be the cure for you. Research published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology has shown that those who exercise outdoors not only report higher levels of enjoyment, but also increased scores on measures of vitality, pleasure, self-esteem, and enthusiasm, and lower on tension, depression, and fatigue after exercising outdoors. Bottom line: If you want to feel good, get outside and get moving!
- You’ll Exercise Longer and Harder
This is likely due to many of the factors we just mentioned, but there is also research suggesting that if you exercise outside you are more likely to exercise for a longer duration. How much longer? 30 minutes on average. If you are running or working out on an uneven surface you will also work harder. Individuals working out ndoors on a machine expend less energy and burn fewer calories than those running or exercising outdoors. Longer duration of exercise and increased intensity results in more calories burnt, which generally leads to increased fat loss and lean mass gains.
- You Will Use More Muscles
In a gym, the footing tends to be flat, even, and firm. However, once you go outside, your footing can vary greatly. Working out on unstable surfaces force your body to use more stabilizing muscles, muscles that may be slacking when you are using a machine in a gym. The fun part is that you can workout literally anywhere outside. For an awesome beach workout, check out my Vacation Beach Workout post. Another benefit, particularly when running, is that you move differently than you would in a gym on a treadmill. A 2010 study published in the Journal of Applied Biomechanics demonstrated that running outdoors leads to an increase in ankle range of motion. You also will stress your muscles differently when running downhill, versus on a treadmill where it is often impossible to run on a negative grade.
Hopefully this encourages both gym addicts and gym haters to give an outdoor workout a try. Science has proven that you will enjoy it more, so why not give it a try!
B.S. in Exercise Science
Certified Personal Trainer
Post-Rehab & Weight Loss Expert
Learn more about Micah and schedule your session with Micah by clicking here.