Why you should be working out outdoors 1260x542

Why you should be working out outdoors

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Do you feel like your gym routine is going nowhere? It may be time to step outdoors. Weight loss coach Andrew Cate offers his tips to breathe fresh air into your workout.

Training outdoors and connecting with the natural environment can do more than provide a change of scenery.

It's a great way to add variety to your exercise routine and boost your motivation.

Sunshine, fresh air and the enjoyment of spending time in pleasant surroundings are just some of the benefits of moving your workout outdoors.

Other potential benefits include: 

  • Increased motivation
  • Longer workouts
  • Stress relief
  • It’s free!

The research

According to research published in Environmental Science & Technology, exercising outside can offer both physical and psychological benefits.

A review of 11 studies examining the benefits of outdoor exercise uncovered some interesting facts.

  • Exercising outdoors had a greater influence on mood, revitalization, self-esteem, vitality, feelings of energy and pleasure compared to exercise indoors. Participants who trained outdoors also expressed a greater intent to repeat the experience.
  • Competitive runners felt less anxious, less depressed, less angry and hostile and less fatigued following an outdoor run. They also showed a greater degree of mental restoration following outdoor activity than indoor activity and a more positive attitude to exercising outdoors. 
  • Physical activity in an outdoor natural environment has additional positive effects on measures of mental wellbeing that are not seen when participating in similar physical activity indoors.
  • People may find it hard to stick with indoor exercise over the long-term, with 40-50% of individuals found to terminate gym membership within a year of joining.


Practical tips to training outdoors

Following are some suggestions and tips on how to maximise the fun and safety of outdoor training.

Get out amongst it

The natural environment includes many different types of green space to workout in, such as urban parks, open countryside, bushland, national parks and beaches.

Get to know what's in your area, and take advantage of it.

Try a triathlon

Why not create your own mini triathlon complete with a swim, bike and run leg? It could be as simple as a ride to the beach, a run to the next headland and back, and 10 - 15 laps of the ocean pool. Adjust the distances to suit your level of fitness, and time yourself so you have a mark to improve upon.

Hit the trails

Why not get the wind in your hair and your tyres off road with some adrenalin pumping mountain biking?

The hills and rugged terrain will help to burn some serious kilojoules while giving you a great core and cardiovascular workout.

Grab a paddle

Paddling is especially good for runners and cyclist who want to stay fit, but take some of the load off their lower body.
Paddling targets your upper body and strengthens the abdominal core muscles. It’s a great way to train while enjoying the great outdoors and spending time on the water.

There are plenty of options, including kayaking, canoeing, stand up paddling, rowing, and dragon boating.

Enjoy an outdoor circuit

Create your own high intensity circuit with a combination of body weight and cardiovascular exercises.

Alternate exercises such as squat jumps, push ups, bench dips, lunges and sit ups with step ups, stair runs, short sprints and sideways skipping.

Take advantage of whatever equipment and landmarks are available at your local park, beach or lake.

Be sun safe

When training outdoors on hot days, take steps to prevent dehydration and heat-induced illness.

Drink plenty of water, train in the coolest part of the day, apply sunscreen and wear a hat or cap.

Adjust your training to suit the conditions by including water based exercise in your workout, such as swimming or deep water running.