There's no debating the benefits of moving your body at least a little bit every day. But if you’re not sure where to start or don’t have a lot of extra time, the idea of going to the gym might not appeal to you.
There’s a simple way to make exercise both easier and more enjoyable—and it’s right outside your front door. Aside from being more affordable than a gym, there are a lot of benefits to breaking a sweat outside.
You work harder.
Something about being outside makes physical activity feel less like exercise. Being in nature lowers blood pressure and stress levels, which helps make whatever you’re doing feel less tiring. Some experts also suspect that the distracting scenery of outdoor environments could be one reason why your brain doesn’t notice the effort you’re putting in.1 Take a nature walk or a hike this weekend and you might find yourself walking farther than you planned.
You burn more calories.
When you get active outdoors, your body is an environment that’s constantly changing. Unlike in a steady, climate-controlled gym, your body has to work harder to adapt to all the small changes in temperature or even terrain. Chase a kite around the backyard with your kids or take your yoga mat to the park and see how much quicker you start to sweat compared to walking on a treadmill at the gym.
You have more fun.
Sometimes the idea of exercising is just plain boring. Getting outside helps physical activity feel more like a plan than a chore. If counting reps or laps isn’t for you, spend some quality time in your garden, dust off your roller skates, or get a team of friends together for an outdoor sports league—the social aspect not only adds to the fun but makes it more likely that you’ll stick with it.
You feel better.
Physical activity is already known to release endorphins, chemicals in the body that help relieve stress and pain to make you feel good. But studies have shown that those who got moving outdoors on a regular basis had higher levels of endorphins than those who stayed inside. They also experienced a higher level of serotonin, a hormone that regulates mood.2 Explore local bike trails or take a walk around the block and notice how good your mind and body feel after.
The most important thing to remember is that the best exercise is one that you want to keep doing consistently. Find something you like, but remember you’re not limited to whatever you can find within four walls.
A MOBE Guide can help you find even more ways to move toward better health and more happiness. Get started today.
1. Valerie F. Gladwell et al, “The Great Outdoors: How a Green Exercise Environment Can Benefit All,” Extreme Physiology & Medicine 2, no. 1 (January 2013): 3, https://doi:10.1186/2046-7648-2-3.
2. Brian C. Focht, “Brief Walks in Outdoor and Laboratory Environments: Effects on Affective Responses, Enjoyment, and Intentions to Walk for Exercise,” Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport 80, no. 3 (January 2013): 611-620, https://doi.org/10.1080/02701367.2009.10599600.