Everyone has their own unique work-out goals, and the outdoors can provide a better workout than indoors depending on those goals. Some of the greatest benefits of outdoor exercise include burning fat, improving mental health, reducing stress, enhancing inner focus, and increasing endorphins.
Outdoor Exercise CAN be a Better Workout
According to one study, a 1% treadmill grade is all you need to re-enact running on a flat surface outdoors, but that is based on breathing levels. A strenuous workout doesn’t always mean a better workout. If your goal is to tone your muscles and increase your cardio motions, you are best to use a treadmill at a 0% grade because then you’ll be able to work out longer before getting too exhausted.
However, if you have different goals, such as building muscle, the great outdoors might do you better due to the more strenuous workouts and various terrains to produce inclines.
Dr. Matthew Rhea, Director of Human Movement at A.T. Still University, did some research for Free Motion Fitness in 2008.
Want to burn fat? Rhea found that going up an incline, even at a slower pace, burns more fat than flat surfaces. Both burn calories, but flat surfaces burn more from carbohydrates.
Do you just not feel like running? According Rhea’s research, “walking at 3 mph on an incline of 12 percent yielded the same heart rate as running at 6 mph on a flat speed.”
The Outdoors Might Help You Stick to a Routine
The enjoyment the outdoors bring can give you the extra motivation you need to go back out and do it again. Maybe, in time, you’ll require your stroll through Walden’s Pond like it’s a cup of coffee.
In 2012, a study of older women was conducted, and they concluded that those who were more active outdoors were more active in general. In addition, Canadian Researchers found for postmenopausal women, outside training led to greater exercise adherence than indoor training.
Improve Mental Health in Nature
Exercising outdoors can improve mental health. According to a meta-analysis at the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry, “Compared with exercising indoors, exercising in natural environments was associated with greater feelings of revitalization and positive engagement, decreases in tension, confusion, anger, and depression, and increased energy. However, the results suggested that feelings of calmness may be decreased following outdoor exercise.”
In addition, many studies show the positive improvements the outdoors have on mental health including reducing stress, battling depression, improving attention and focus, and reducing anger.
Of course, a lot of this depends on where you exercise outdoors. A hike might be more mentally satisfactory than jogging around a track, but a little sunshine and fresh air can be enjoyable in both places.
Activities that require meditation like Yoga is a workout, but even a good jog can give you meditative benefits. The outside is often cited as a great resource for oms among the yoga community.
Field experiments conducted in a study of 24 forests across Japan researching the physiological effects of Shinrin-yoku, and it showed that exposure to forest environments lowered amounts of cortisol (the stress hormone). In addition, it could lower blood pressure and increase nerve activity.
Academia.edu says, choosing a place with beautiful scenery can help increase endorphins (feel good chemicals).
A Swedish study published in Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences found that viewing natural fractals like the patterns in trees and ferns induces wakeful relaxation and internalized attention.
Sunlight Creates Vitamin D
Vitamin D can help improve sleep and immune function, increase endorphins, and reduce the risk of heart disease. So go outside and get some Vitamin D. Be careful and wear sunscreen.
The world of nature can rejuvenate your body as a supplement to the workout routine in of itself. No matter what your goals are, changing up the scenery once in awhile could never hurt. Don’t forget to gear up with some comfy Onzie clothing.