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Top 10 benefits of exercising outdoors

July 24th, 2022 | 10 min. read

Top 10 benefits of exercising outdoors

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Top 10 benefits of exercising outdoors

Naturally, people go to the gym or fitness center to be active. After all, gyms have all the necessary equipment to ensure you have a great workout. 

 

What you may not know is that there are numerous benefits to taking your fitness programming outdoors. 

 

Paseo Club has been teaching members about fitness for 19 years. We offer several fitness options and classes — many of which are held outside.

 

By the end of this article you will learn why working out in the fresh air is a great choice, how to prepare for an outdoor workout, and what types of exercise are best suited for the outdoors. 

 

10 Benefits of outdoor exercise

 

Outdoor exercise has numerous physical, mental, and social benefits. 

 

  1. Enhances mental health and increases self-esteem

Studies have shown that even five minutes per day of being active in “green spaces” reduces feelings of depression, tension, and anger. Self-esteem also improves. 

 

The same study indicates that there is an immediate psychological benefit to exercising outdoors which means that going outside provides instant gratification — something we can all appreciate.

 

  1. Social connections

Exercising outdoors is a great time to connect with friends and family. 

 

It can be as simple as an evening walk after dinner with your spouse and kids, a pick-up game of basketball or soccer with the neighbors, or a five-mile jog with your friend.

 

Socializing is proven to enhance people’s moods and minimize feelings of depression.



In this article from the Mayo Clinic, Dr. Sawchuk says, "We are social animals by nature, so we tend to function better when we're in a community and around others."

  1. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a crucial nutrient that helps the body absorb and retain calcium and phosphorus which is critical for bone and dental health. 

 

But that is not all. Vitamin D can reduce cancer growth, help control infections, and minimize inflammation.

 

The amount of vitamin D a person’s skin makes when they are in the sun depends on many factors. 

 

  • skin tone
  • age
  • geographic location 
  • weather conditions
  • time of year
  • time of day

 

Researchers suggest that approximately 5–30 minutes of sun exposure, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., two to three times per week is ideal for sufficient vitamin D synthesis. 

 

People’s faces, arms, hands, and legs should be uncovered and without sunscreen during this time.

 

  1. Lowers blood pressure and heart rate

Did you know that according to John Hopkins University exercise works like a beta-blocker to minimize heart disease? 

 

Blood pressure is lowered, heart rate is lowered, stress hormones that create a burden on the heart are decreased, and good cholesterol (HDL) is increased. 

 

When exercise is combined with being in green areas the improvements to heart health only go up. In fact, just viewing a film of green spaces while exercising lowers blood pressure



  1. Improves sleep

Exercise helps people sleep better and reduces insomnia. Time spent outdoors does the same. 

 

Now researchers are beginning to explore how physical activity in combination with time outside can affect rest. According to this one study, being outdoors and physically active can increase sleep time



  1. New challenges/stimuli

When we step outside to move our bodies we can look at our neighborhoods, parks, and local trails as our gym. 

 

Exercising outdoors is an opportunity to be creative, and playful, and to challenge yourself in new ways. 

 

Being outdoors offers new terrain, weather, and obstacles.

 

Some fun ideas for an outdoor workout are:

 

  • Hill sprints
  • Hiking in nature
  • Obstacle courses at the park (step-ups on the benches, traversing the monkey bars, bear crawls through the grass)
  • Bike rides
  • Create your own bodyweight Tabata or HIIT program with burpees, planks, squats, and more



  1. Fresh air

Breathing fresh air increases the quantity of oxygen that is taken into our bodies. Increasing oxygen levels has many benefits to our health

 

  • Improves digestion
  • Lowers blood pressure and heart rate
  • Serotonin (the feel-good hormone) levels elevate
  • White blood cell function improves which supports our immune system
  • Supports healthy lung function
  • Enhances concentration and brain function



  1. Easy access

One of the best things about being physically active in the outdoors is that it is so easy to access. 

 

All you need to do is open the front door to your home and walk outside. There is no driving and no commute time to factor in.

 

You can get your outdoor workout in at any point in the day that works best for you because it is not based on the schedule of the gym or fitness center. 

 

You can also go out for short or longer workouts, depending on your needs. Sometimes a jog around the block is just right. Other times you may want to go play frisbee with your friends for a couple of hours. 

 

  1. Affordable

If you are on a budget, getting fit outdoors is a great choice because outdoor exercise is often free. 

 

Training at the park, going on hikes, runs, or bike rides, or using public facilities such as basketball courts are great options that do not cost a penny.

 

Some facilities do cost. Places that you may need to pay a fee are:

 

  • Swimming pools
  • Private lessons that are outdoors such as tennis
  • Outdoor fitness classes at a gym or fitness studio
  • Adult sports leagues
  • Golf course

 

  1. Play 

Play is defined as engaging in something that you enjoy for recreation. 

 

You may wonder why playing is included in the list of benefits of moving more outdoors. The reason why play helps adults is that it increases fitness and alleviates stress.

 

Outdoor fitness is a great way to connect with your inner child. Experiment with going to the park (solo or with your children) and do what kids do.

 

Swing on the swings, sprint across the grassy areas, climb trees, slide down slides, squat to look at the ants walking across the path, and jump off of the play structure. 

 

By the time you are done, you will have had the best workout of your life!

 

How to prepare for an outdoor workout

You will need to prepare for your outdoor workout by making some necessary adjustments.

 

Hydrate

Though you may not feel thirsty, especially on cold or rainy days, you still need to drink water and/or electrolyte replacement drinks to stay hydrated. 

 

Staying hydrated helps you minimize heat stress, maintain healthy body function, and peak performance levels

 

If you are going to be out for a while, find a way to bring water with you. That can be as simple as packing a water bottle, but it can also mean using a water bladder in your backpack or using a hydration belt that you can wear.

 

Wear layers

No matter if it is hot or cold, it is important to wear layers of clothing that are lightweight and sweat-wicking. 

 

In cool weather start by wearing enough layers to be warm and remove them as needed to stay comfortable. 

 

In hot and sunny weather wear lightweight clothing with SPF protection to prevent excess sun exposure and sunburns. 

 

Wear a hat and pack sunglasses too. 

 

Bring the right gear

Depending on what type of workout you are choosing, you may need to bring some gear with you. Common pieces of equipment are:

 

  • Shoes: choose the correct footwear for hiking, running, biking, or playing sports
  • Yoga mat: for exercises on the ground or grass
  • Gloves: to keep your hands warm and or to protect them when gripping bars at the park 
  • Sunscreen: you should wear sunscreen unless you are out for a short time and not in high heat conditions 
  • Reflective clothing: for activities at dawn, dusk, or in dense fog to increase your visibility to drivers and motorcyclists
  • Music: bring your favorite tunes to keep your momentum going



Best exercises for the outdoors 

Depending on your interests, there is a wide range of physical activities that are possible to enjoy outdoors. Some of these activities are seasonal but many can be done year-round. 

 

  • Walking, running, and hiking
  • Rollerblading and biking
  • Fishing and hunting
  • Golfing
  • Rock or ice climbing
  • Kayaking, canoeing, diving, boating, or sailing
  • Skiing, including cross-country and downhill skiing
  • Ice skating
  • Snowboarding
  • Sledding
  • Snowshoeing
  • Fitness classes held outside 
  • Swimming

Next steps to enjoying your outdoor exercise

Exercising outdoors does not need to be complicated or expensive. Developing your new outdoor routine can be a great way to stay fit as well as enjoy the social and mental health benefits too.

 

In this article, you learned what are the top 10 benefits of exercising outdoors. Hopefully, you now know how easy (and fun!) it is to incorporate outdoor movement into your life.

 

Paseo Club has a number of exercise spaces that take place in the fresh air that is used for classes year-round. If you love the outdoors, exercising with friends, and getting a good workout in, then come check out our facility by taking a tour.

 

We offer tennis, pickleball, swimming, and fitness classes — not to mention our outdoor cafe. Check out the class schedule to see what’s happening this week. 

 

Want to read up on what the specialists are saying about the link between exercise and mental health? 


If your version of quality time outdoors is visiting with friends with a cocktail or glass of wine at your side, then we’ve got you covered. Learn all about Wine Down Wednesday.