Are you a gym rat? A regular at your cycling studio? Quarantine has forced all of us to get creative with our at-home workouts. And although our favorite studios might be closed, we can use this period of isolation to spend more time outdoors. Most people know that exercise is great for one’s physical health, but besides building physical strength, there are also numerous benefits of outdoor exercise that may not be as obvious.
Boost mental health
If you live in an urban environment, actively seeking out and spending time in greenspace is important for your mental health. Studies show that individuals who live in urban areas with more greenspace experience less anxiety and depression and also have healthier cortisol (your main stress hormone) levels. As you might infer, exercising outdoors, sometimes referred to as green exercise, has positive health outcomes as well. Research published in Environmental Science and Technology. found that for people with varying age and gender, exercising outdoors -- and even more so in an outdoor environment with water -- increases an individual’s self esteem and mood. And the good news is that the type of exercise doesn’t necessarily matter -- you can run, walk, crawl, or cartwheel and still get the positive effects of green exercise! So, why don’t you try it out! This week, spend time outdoors without your phone, and jot down thoughts about how you’re feeling each day.
Not much is free these days, but outdoor exercise is! Gym memberships can be expensive, and not everyone can afford one. (The minimum membership fee at a luxury gym in the U.S. costs around $200 per month). If you wanted to drop in to a popular spin class once a week for a month you would spend over $100. Outdoor exercise requires no gym memberships or class drop-in fees. And guess what? Everyone has access to the outdoors! Whether you’re in the middle of a city or surrounded by trees, you can throw on some shoes and head outside. Let’s get to it!
Challenge your mind & body
If you’re used to working out in a gym everyday, challenge yourself to start exercising outdoors. Steep hills, uneven ground, and unexpected obstacles will force your body and mind to adapt quickly, making your workout even more stimulating, challenging -- and rewarding! On top of that, chances are you’ll avoid boredom because of the change in scenery and fresh air. So, what are you waiting for? Put on your running shoes and let’s get moving!
Ideas for your next outdoor workout
Not sure where to start? Here’s a list of outdoor activities for everyone!
- Take a walk around the block
- Run up the hill by your house
- Dust off your rollerblades and go for a spin around the neighborhood
- Bike around the park with your family
- Put a mat on your back patio for some yoga
- Play indoor/outdoor hide and seek with your kids
- Wash your car
- Learn a new dance
The positive effects of exercising outdoors, or spending time outside in general, are endless. Given the current pandemic, it’s important to get your body moving outdoors to stay physically active, get your creative juices flowing, and to keep your mental health in check.
Please follow all CDC protocols and mind your local ordinances when spending time outdoors.