Moving. Getting outside. They are a natural fit. And if you’re looking to be fit, strong, slim moving your training outside will fast track your success. Here’s why…
One of my favourite times of the year is Spring. The weather is warmer, the days are longer, flowers are blooming and there’s a sense of “new life” in the air.
It’s a great time of the year to be stuck in a small, germ loving, smelly gym…NOT! For me, Spring presents an opportunity to exercise outdoors as often as I can. Not only do I love the feeling, the benefits to you and me are many. Here are a few of the top ones…
Benefits of outdoor exercise
Surround yourself and breathe in fresh, clean air
Why? Air (specifically oxygen) is the “spark” for every one of the millions of processes that occur simultaneously in your body. The higher the quality of the oxygen, the brighter the spark. Indoor air is stale and more polluted. The most valuable nutrient you need to exercise at your best is oxygen, so it’s common sense to have the best quality available; outdoors is where you get it.
Clean air delivers more oxygen to your cells, helping your food digest more efficiently, improving your blood pressure and encouraging purification of your body.
Soak up Mother Nature’s power source – Sunlight
Why? Vitamin D – your body loves it. Get enough of it and you’ll reduce your risk of cancer and lower your blood pressure. Bones love vitamin D as it encourages them to become denser and stronger. Vitamin D makes you feel good mentally and emotionally.
Having a blood test is the most reliable way of knowing if you are deficient in Vitamin D. There are however are a few signs and symptoms which may give you an indication of your risk…
- You have dark skin – the darker your skin, the more chance you have of being Vitamin D deficient
- Feel blue – as this vitamin is needed for the “happy” hormones, lack of it can leave you feeling sad
- 50 plus – if you’re over this milestone you’re more at risk
- Overweight – and I don’t mean just with body fat. Anyone who is heavier than normal, more muscle will do it too, needs more Vitamin D
- Aching bones – a sign of weak bones
- Sweaty head – not conclusive but not to be dismissed
- Gut trouble – again an “oldie but a goodie” as it often is common for those low in this vitamin, to also have digestive issues
No more germs
Many of the gyms I’ve been in are dirty and that means germs. People in an enclosed environment spread germs. People who sweat all over machines leave germs. Gross! Germs can make you sick. Why exercise in a place where you are more likely to get sick? That doesn’t make sense. Indoor air is two to five time more polluted than outdoor air, according to a study from the Environmental Protection Agency. So being outside = much fewer germs. I want to be fit and healthy and the environment I train in should be the same.
Get a clear head (and mind)
We are an outdoor animal, who lives predominantly indoors. The way we live these days, we have it wrong. Jo Barton, Ph.D., the lead author of a 2011 study focused on the mental health of people who were involved in indoor or outdoor activities for six weeks. Her conclusion…
Closeness to nature increases our well-being—it has an immunising effect by protecting us from future stresses and helping us concentrate and think more clearly.
We all know this instinctively. It is any coincidence we feel better after a beach holiday, or that a walk through the park leaves us feeling refreshed and renewed? Try doing it every day and make up your own mind.
You can’t-do this, or see this, in a gym
Ever tried running a hill in a gym? By the time you get the treadmill worked out and get it to an incline that feels sort of like a hill you’re so exhausted you have to jump off and take a break. Me, I just find a hill and run it.
Ever seen the sunrise over the hills from your gym? Or watched a dog play fetch with its owner? Or a little kid run around with their parents? How about watching the waves roll in? These are just a few of the things I saw last week while I trained. Beautiful, real-life scenarios played out in front of me. For me, I love being connected with life and training outdoors gives me the opportunity for this. Lifting weights in a gym, or running on a treadmill, offers none of these fringe benefits – it’s dead exercise.
Outdoor exercise – I’m a big fan
I’m completely sold on outdoor exercise and I hope I’ve encouraged you to add some to your regime. I’m crazy about training but you don’t have to be like me to realise the benefits of being outside. Take a walk, sit in a park, eat your dinner or breakfast outside today. Reconnect with most likely one of the most important lifestyle factors we are deficient in these days, and that is our realisation that we are a part of nature not separate from it.