Autumn is the best season for exploring the outdoors — hands down. With oppressive summer heat and humidity behind us, we’re delighting in only semi-drenching our workout gear on these cooler mornings and crisp evenings.
But apparently some people remain unconvinced. Whether you’re devoted to your Spinning class, yoga studio or favorite treadmill, humor us and let us try to change your mind with these 6 reasons to start working out outside.
1. Outdoor exercise lifts your mood.
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- A 2012 report found that spending time in the out of doors made people 50 percent happier than spending time at the gym, according to the Telegraph.
- Previous research has linked outdoor exercise with a reduction in tension, confusion, anger and depression, when compared to indoor activity. And it doesn’t have to be a long stroll in the park, either: A 2010 study found that even just five minutes of exercise in a green space can improve mood and self-esteem, the BBC reported.
2. It improves your attention and focus.
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- A small study from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that kids with ADHD were able to concentrate better after a 20-minute walk in a park rather than a walk through city or neighborhood streets.
- “What this particular study tells us is that the physical environment matters,” Frances E. Kuo, director of the university’s Landscape and Human Health Laboratory and one of the study’s co-authors told The New York Times. “We don’t know what it is about the park, exactly — the greenness or lack of buildings — that seems to improve attention.”
3. It will help you stick with it.
- While every little bit of exercise counts, let’s be honest: Most of us could probably afford to do a little bit more. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americansrecommend the average adult get two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio every week, plus two or more sessions of strength training.
- Between seemingly endless work hours and the demands of family life, it’s all too easy to skip a workout. However, a 2011 survey found that exercising outdoors is a reinforcing behavior: Outdoor exercisers “declared a greater intent to repeat the activity at a later date” than gym-goers.
4. It can keep your weight steady.
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- The fresh air, the sunlight, the scenery, the open space — there’s a lot about being outside that can inspire more activity, especially compared to the beckoning couches and screens of indoor spaces. All that extra movement adds up to tangible results: A 2008 study found that rates of overweight among children who spent more time outside were 27 to 41 percent lower than in kids who spent more time indoors.
5. It will ramp up your energy.
- Exercise itself is sure to reinvigorate you when you’re feeling sluggish, but fresh air can boost the effect. A 2009 study from the University of Rochester found that just 20 minutes outside can rev you up as much as a cup of coffee, The Telegraphreported.
- “Often when we feel depleted we reach for a cup of coffee, but this suggests a better way to get energized is to connect with nature,” lead author Richard M. Ryan, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the university told the publication.
6. It can improve your vitamin D levels.
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- Taking your workout outside is a great (and free!) way to soak up some additional vitamin D. A 2011 study that found vigorous exercisers had higher levels of vitamin suggested that outdoor exercise may be the reason why.
- It may be especially helpful for people with a few pounds to lose, according to Everyday Health, since overweight people are almost twice as likely to not get enough vitamin D. Just make sure you’re not skimping on sunscreen!
By: Sarah Klein