Training outdoors has a host of benefits, but it can be hard to get motivated to train outdoors, especially in winter. So why should we do it?
What are the benefits of training outdoors?
Outdoor training increases endorphins
Did you know that the word 'endorphin' is actually a made-up word combining the terms 'endogenous' and 'morphine'? If something is endogenous, that simply means it was made within the body. So, endorphins are basically a type of morphine made by our body. That explains why they make us feel so good!
Endorphins are natural pain-relievers and make us feel happy, just like morphine. 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.
You burn more calories training outside
When you train in a gym or run on a treadmill, your body doesn't have to combat the elements. The surfaces are smooth and man-made and you don't need to work as hard to battle them. When training outside, you have the added elements of wind-resistance and heat from the sun, as well as uneven terrain to keep you on your toes. Research says you can burn up to 10% 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. In fact, there is a type of vitamin D that we can only get through sunlight and cannot be produced by the body or absorbed through food. Vitamin D is essential for our bodies to absorb calcium and it also improves your mood. Lack of vitamin D is one reason so many people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder in the winter.
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.
Exercising outdoors saves money
By training outdoors you are enabling yourself to train for free. You don't need expensive equipment in order to do a good workout, in fact, you don't need any equipment at all! Simply use park benches, trees, and other natural things in order to complete your workout. Just make sure you have the right fitness clothing so that you're comfortable and protected against the elements.