While the popularity of gyms and fitness clubs is spreading, the prevalence for outdoor workouts and excursions is dwindling. Working out at a gym is a great way to build muscle, burn fat, and tone your shape– all in the comfort of a climate-controlled area, but for the convenience, you pay a price. That price comes in two forms: the first is monetary value, which equates to whatever amount of money that you’re paying the gym for the privilege of using their equipment; the second is salubrious value, which equates to the amount of natural benefits you’re missing out on by exercising indoors. Get outside to feel the difference.
Benefits for Your Body
Many of the benefits that your body will receive from working out outdoors, it will also receive from working out in a gym, or in your house. People tend to have more energy, lower blood pressure, and improved sleep when a regular exercise routine is maintained, whether they are indoors, or out. However, there are additional physiological health benefits that you can gain simply by making sure that you get outside a few times per week for your workouts.
Increase Energy Levels
It may seem like a paradox, but the facts are that the more active you are, the more energy you will have. If all you have to do to be active is throw on some workout gear and get outside, you are much more likely to continue being active than if you have to put forth the effort to go somewhere (like the gym) before you can begin your workout.
Increase Fitness Levels
Not only do you have to carve out a specific amount of time to actually work out, you also have to schedule in the estimated commute time when you hit the gym which causes the average person to skip at least one workout per week, due to perceived hassle. For those times when getting to the gym seems too hard, nature’s gym is always ready and waiting for your exploration just outside the door.
Increase Vitamin D Levels
You cannot get the amount of vitamin D that your body requires to be healthy from food alone. The best way to get vitamin D is by exposing your skin to natural sunlight. Kill two birds with one stone by getting your daily dose as you work out, outside. But don’t forget to always apply your sunscreen!
Among other benefits, vitamin D helps to strengthen your immune system, so the more sunlight you can obtain during the day, the better your overall health will be.
Reduce Blood Pressure
You can thank that good ol’ vitamin D again for this convenient benefit. It has been scientifically proven that blood pressure drops with the introduction of vitamin D into the body. It is also believed that the calming presence of nature may have an effect on blood pressure.
Healthy Blood Glucose Levels
A study done on “shinrin-yoku” or forest-air bathing and walking, has proven that simply walking amongst the trees in a forest is enough to promote healthy blood glucose levels in diabetics.
The harder that you push yourself during your workouts, the more exhausted your muscles will become. The muscle fatigue will actually work with your natural sleep cycle to promote more effective sleeping patterns, that may or may not last longer, but will be more regenerative.
In addition to physiological health benefits, working out outdoors offers a variety of different psychological benefits that working out indoors just doesn’t. The fresh air and tranquility of nature work together in a blend of serenity and escape that treat your mind to a vacation every single time you get outside and get moving. Pushing your body to the brink indoors can be especially hard on your emotional stability because your mind has nothing to focus on besides the pain of the moment. When you take your workout outside, you are building your mind up for the strength and stability it’s going to need for those moments of muscular stress.
Reduce Anxiety Levels
Simply being out in nature has been proven to have a significantly positive effect on decreasing both stress and anxiety levels. Exercise shares these effects; put the two together and you’ve got a recipe for a peaceful lifestyle.
Reduce Risk of Depression
Exercising releases endorphins, which pair with the boost of serotonin your brain receives from being in nature, creating a sanctuary of happiness in your mind that helps reduce both current feelings of depression and future risks of developing depression.
Increase Critical Thinking
When you exercise outside, your brain chemistry is altered and the ability to think critically becomes stronger.
Improves Concentration Abilities
Aimlessly running on a treadmill will never force your brain to concentrate on anything more than putting one foot in front of the other. While outdoors, you have to concentrate on making sure that you don’t trip over a fallen branch, or get hit by a passing car. The more your concentration abilities are used, the more they will improve.
Reduces Mental Fatigue
Tests have shown that a person’s mind is both invigorated and relaxed while exercising outdoors. This is because while the mind is busy focusing on keeping the body safe throughout the workout, it is also being calmed and centered by its natural surroundings.
Getting out of the gym, and out of the box, allows the mind to wonder. In addition to this freedom, the mind is also seeing and experiencing things that it does not encounter on a daily basis that inspires future creativity.
Alleviate Symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Dementia
Studies have shown that those suffering from Alzheimer’s and Dementia can benefit from nature therapy. While it will not heal the diseases, nor will it prevent future degeneration, the introduction of nature therapy can alleviate their current symptoms, and allow them to live out their days with an inner peace and happiness they may not otherwise find.
Many people find enhanced spiritual enlightenment through the act of exercising and pushing their bodies and minds to the brink. For these people, exercising outside can be even more beneficial to their enlighten-mind, self-awareness, and emotional well-being, than doing the exact same workouts indoors. Although some of these statements cannot be backed by hard science due to their fluid nature, they can be felt by many people who have decided to get outside to workout.
Improve Emotional Well-Being
The better sleep a person receives, coupled with the drop in anxiety and stress they will feel by getting outside during their daily or weekly workouts, will directly correlate with their improved emotional well-being.
Provides Calming Effect
The absorption of vitamin D that will occur by exercising outside will lower your blood pressure, and even out your blood glucose levels, to provide you with an unparalleled sense of calm.
Increases Sense of Purpose and Meaning
As your emotional self heals and your body and mind learn to embrace the calming nature of your new routine, you will find that your spirit is more at peace with itself providing an increased sense of personal meaning and purpose to life.
The more time you spend in nature working on the improvement of self, both body and mind, the more self-aware you will become making your journey easier to comprehend and embrace every day.
Your mood will improve and you will find yourself longing to get outside and get exercising so that you can feel uplifted and rejuvenated in your body, mind, and spirit, rather than dragging yourself to the gym for a workout that only exercises your body.
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