Now’s A Great Time To Be Exercising Outdoors
If you’re someone who grew up in the late ’90s or early 2000s, you’ve been hearing the words “go play outside” since you were old enough to power up your Playstation. And, like most people, you might’ve written it off as your parents needing some space or encouraging you to get some fresh air, right?
It turns out that your parents had the right idea. New research is popping up all the time on the incredible health benefits of going outside. Of course, just walking out your front door and standing outside isn’t quite enough – you want to be moving while you’re out there, too. Here’s everything you need to know about why now is the perfect time to start exercising outside…
The Case For The Outdoors
It’s no secret that being outdoors is good for you. There’s something about being among the trees that makes you feel better – but why?
In the last ten years, incredible research – including this fascinating Japanese study in Forest Bathing – has shown that simply spending time outside, exercising on nature trails, or hiking outdoors can expose you to phytochemicals that plants naturally give off. These phytochemicals can reduce:
- Cortisol (the stress hormone)
- High blood pressure
- Rapid heartrate
There’s even been a link established between people’s lifespan and body temperature. It’s been suggested that leaving the comfort of AC or indoor heating to brave the fluctuating temperatures outside can increase stress resistance and help you burn more calories naturally.
It’s even thought to improve your cardiovascular performance, which could help you get into better shape faster. If taking your workout outdoors might be the key to amping up your health, how are you supposed to exercise outside? Check out a few of these tips to get started…
Don’t Drive: Walk Or Bike
Have you thought about how weird it is that most people – perhaps you, too – will get in the car and drive to a gym that’s just a few miles away?
If your gym is less than two miles away, consider walking. Or, if that seems like it might take too long, hop on your bicycle.
The more time you spend using your body to commute to the gym, the less time you may need to spend on a cardio warmup once you get there. You might even be able to jump straight into a strength training regimen, if that’s your preference.
Go To The Park
What about those times when it’s not practical to go to the gym?
Maybe the gym is closed or you’re travelling. Or, maybe, it’s simply too nice of a day to spend it inside.
The solution is simple: open up your phone and find the nearest park.
You can warm up by jogging along paths and use benches and other outdoor fixtures to do push ups, leg presses, pull ups, and just about any other kind of strength training you can imagine.
Some parks even have an area with gym equipment set up. Sure, it might look just like the kids’ playground, but it’s every bit as effective as the equipment at the gym.
Nature Is Your Gym Equipment
If you’re looking for a workout that’s a little more “off the beaten path,” look around you in nature for your gym equipment.
- Carry a rock in your backpack
- Find a log to carry
- Use stable logs and rocks for leg presses
- Go rock hopping at the lake
You can even find great ways to workout in your own backyard.
If you’ve got a car and a flat driveway, try putting your car in neutral and pushing it up and down the driveway. (This works best if you have a partner who can make sure the car doesn’t get away from you.)
Have some rope and a spare tire or cinder block in the shed? Tie the tire or cinder block to one one end of the rope and pull it through your backyard.
Head Into The Woods Or Get On The Water
Hiking solo can be a great way to get back in touch with nature (remember Japanese Forest Bathing?) and get in a great workout. All it takes is a little quick research – you can even use an app like AllTrails – and you can usually find great hikes with amazing scenery close by.
Contrary to what you might think, a hike doesn’t have to be an easy, breezy stroll through the woods. Add some weights to your pack or choose a trail that’s a little more challenging. Not interested in a hike? Hit the beach for a low-impact, high-intensity workout. Swimming, kayaking, and canoeing are great ways to get your heart pumping on that water.
So, what are you waiting for? Why are you still inside? Throw on some zinc oxide, queue up your favorite music, and take your workout outside.