We spend, on average, 85-90% of our time indoors.
Whether you're stuck in the office, at school, in your car, at home or even at the gym, the majority of the time there’s a roof over your head.
Since we live in the often wet and windy UK, we have an excuse, right?
Wrong! A little rain never hurt anybody. “What a glorious feeling”, Gene Kelly was onto something. What makes exercising outdoors so glorious?
Nature has provided it’s very own gym, the outdoor environment.
Benefits of Outdoor Training
Outdoor training increases endorphins
Endorphins are natural pain- relievers and make us happy. Training outdoors has been associated with higher levels of these 'feel good' chemicals being produced in the body. According to a study published in The Environmental Science & Technology Journal, just 5 minutes spent exercising outside in an open green space is enough to significantly lift your mood.
Fun Fact: The name endorphin derives from the words 'endogenous' and 'morphine' i.e a morphine like substance originating from within the body.
You burn more calories training outside
Why? When you're in a gym, the air con is set to keep you cool, the floor is laid with smooth surfaces for training on and the weather is shut out. Take your training outside and you're against the elements. You could be working against the wind adding resistance to your workout, sweating in the sun, or running across an uneven terrain. Research says you should burn 5% more calories than your regular gym session.
High oxygen levels improve almost every chemical reaction within your body. Research shows that spending time in fresh air, surrounded by nature, increases energy in 90 percent of people. “Nature is fuel for the soul, “ says Richard Ryan, Researcher and Professor of at the University of Rochester. “Often when we feel depleted we reach for a cup of coffee, but research suggests a better way to get energised is to connect with nature.”
Outdoor training can improve bone density
The best source of Vitamin D is Sunlight. Vitamin D is essential for our bodies to absorb calcium which “makes our bones grow strongerer”.
According to the National Osteoporosis Society recommendations, we should try to get at least 10 minutes of sun exposure to bare skin once or twice a day. Even if it’s cloudy, your body can still get vitamin D from sunlight; it just takes a little longer.
You spend longer exercising when it’s outdoors
According to a study in the International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity on average a person exercising outdoors spends 30 minutes more exercising than those who exercised indoors.
Exercising outdoors saves money
Firstly, you can save money on expensive gym memberships by swapping to training with mother nature. This leads to you not driving to the gym, which then saves you money in petrol and pollutes the planet less. This knock on effect of saving money (and the environment) continues as the more time you spend outside, the less time your spending indoors, lighting, heating and using electrics in your home.
Outdoor training helps you stress less
Exercise reduces stress wherever it’s done, but exercising outside can help to reduce cortisol even more. Cortisol is designed to protect your body when it goes into fight or flight mode, however elevated levels of stress from everyday life can leave high levels of cortisol in the blood stream leading to weight gain, chronic fatigue, higher susceptibility to illness, digestive issues, anxiety and depression. All of which can be combated by de-stressing and getting your exercise in outdoors can certainly help.
Exercising outside improves sleep
People who manage to fit in at least two and a half hours of physical activity each week benefit from a 65 per cent improvement in sleep quality, according to a study at Oregon State University. If you're lucky enough to live by the sea - or make an effort to visit the coast regularly - you are also more likely to get a better night's kip. This is because sea air contains charged negative hydrogen ions, which boost your ability to absorb oxygen, leaving us feeling more energised throughout the day and well rested at night.
Exercising Outside improves mental focus
Outdoor exercise provides mental stimulation that indoor workouts simply can’t rival. Whether you’re working out at home or your local gym, the view will always be the same four walls. Taking your training outside means you can have constantly changing scenery to challenge, excite and stimulate your brain so you can give your mind a workout as well as your body!
Outdoor training doesn’t leave room for excuses
If you’re running along on the treadmill and you want to stop, you can. Press the big red button and you're able to walk right out. But, when you're 3 miles away from home on your run, you’ve still got to get back. In fact training outside combats the three most popular anti-gym excuses. The great outdoors is free, easy to get to and you generally find it on the way home from work, so money, time and convenience fall short as adequate excuses.