Take it outside: Health benefits of working out outdoors

Outdoor workouts and activities have been proven to help you burn fat faster while allowing you to soak in much-needed vitamin D. Studies at the University of Minnesota and Laval University found that vitamin D triggers weight loss primarily in the belly.


When it comes to fitness, health, and overall mental and physical well-being, we know a couple of things to be true: 1) Hitting your goals often takes some combination of exercise, making healthier food choices, and taken care of one's mental health needs. 2) What your goals are and how you get there depends entirely on what your idea of "being in good shape" is.


We also know that some folks like to get their work-out in at home via their peloton bike, Yoga, floor exercises, etc. While others like the idea of being at their local Planet Fitenss, working out alongside familiar faces. If you are like me, you do a little bit of both.


Llately though, I have scaled back my at-home workouts and started working out outdoors a bit more - even in the fall and winter cold. I really love going for a run in the cold. From the outside looking in, it seems like a perilous move but really isn't.


It's much easier to run in the cold than in the smoldering heat of the summer days. Well, for me at least. I find that I feel much better when I exercise outdoors. I tend to stay engaged for longer periods of time and as an added bonus, I get to enjoy some alone, deep in thought, time.


That being said, here are some health benefits of exercising outdoors.


It’s a natural antidepressant

Outdoor exercise can help ward off seasonal affective disorder (SAD), depression and anxiety because sunshine naturally increases serotonin, a hormone that affects your mood. And exercise itself produces endorphins, another feel-good hormone that boosts your mood and reduces pain.


It challenges your body

“When exercising on ever-changing outdoor terrain, your body is more challenged than when it is working out on a flat indoor surface,” explains Norvell.



You may be more likely to stick with it

“I take many of my individual clients and classes outdoors,” says Norvell. “They often tell me it doesn’t feel like as much of a workout as running on the treadmill, even though they are still getting a great calorie burn.”


It’s free

All you need to get a fantastic workout is a safe, well-lit park, track, neighborhood or walking trail, and your bodyweight. No gym membership required.


It can be a team-building experience

“There are many recreational sports leagues for adults, such as kickball or softball,” says Norvell. “I encourage adults to do it, even if you’re not an athlete. Joining a team can help you stay consistent with exercise and it can bring back those feelings you had as a kid playing outside—and unlike high school, no athletic ability is required.”



Try this parking garage running pattern:

  • Warm up: walk from the ground floor to the top floor and back down.

  • Run to Level 1, return to ground floor

  • Run to Level 2, return to ground floor

  • Run to Level 3, return to ground floor

  • Continue this pattern until you reach the top!


Try this park bench workout:

  • 15 box jumps

  • 15 step-ups (right & left)

  • 15 push-ups with hands on bench, 30 dips

  • 1-minute plank—hands on the bench, feet on the ground OR kick it up a notch with your hands on the ground and your feet on the bench

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