Not feeling inspired to work out in stuffy gyms or cramped living rooms?
It’s time to take your fitness routine outside and take a look at what the latest research has to say about outdoor exercise!
Exercising outdoors can offer a tonne of benefits for your body and mind, from soaking up vitamin D to reducing stress and boosting your mood.
Plus, there is just such a wide variety of ways to exercise in nature, you’ll never get bored.
All Movement Is Good, But Outdoors Is Better
We all know that exercise is good for us, but a new study adds to the growing body of research that is highlighting the increased benefits of exercising outdoors and its potential to make significant improvements to brain health.
I have always been an outdoorsy kind of person, I think it was instilled during childhood by my grandmother who would always have us outdoors in the summer.
Hiking trails, exploring caves, scavenging woodlands or hunting for raspberries in the UK’s Lancashire or Cumbrian countryside.
Being taught by the generation that only had the outdoors as their playing field, who grew up during a time when computers and TV screens weren’t really a thing.
This obviously stuck with me as I now live in the French Alps and the mountains are now my stomping ground and I’m so grateful for those childhood memories that have shaped the person I am today.
Being out in nature just inspires me and brings a feeling of presence, gratitude, and grounding. Time spent in nature always leaves me feeling complete.
Benefits Of Nature On The Brain
Some of the current science shows is that exercising outdoors can:
- Improve memory, attention and reduce cognitive fatigue
- Improve learning and reduce cognitive decline
- Cause increases in dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine in the prefrontal cortex post-exercise meaning subjects improved mood.
Being outside in nature induces a feeling of being away from our routines and responsibilities. It gives us a break both physically and mentally.
There is a real reason the Japanese invented Forest Bathing. It’s literally a treatment to help de-stress, heal people and essential prevent them from dropping down dead at their desks. Yes that was actually happening.
We are living in a time when urbanisation is ever increasing, so finding the opportunity to be immersed in and exercise in nature will see more and more benefits.
The researchers of this recent study concluded that:
in a world where many people ‘hit the gym’ before or after work or on their lunch break, our results suggest that these people would be better served by simply ‘getting outside’
So if you want to get up and move on your lunch break you may well perform better in the afternoon at work, if you chose to do your movement outdoors.
Other Benefits Of Outdoor Workouts
- Stop Self Comparison. Not having mirrors or even looking around at anyone else. You get to be present with your body, with nature, with your breath. Stop the comparison dead in its tracks. You connect with nature as nature does not compare instead of worrying about what other people are thinking of you.
- Potential benefits to the immune system from having your hands in the dirt. When you are out in nature, you are exposed to soil that contains a variety of microorganisms, including bacteria and fungi. Some of these microorganisms can actually have a beneficial effect on the immune system by stimulating its activity. For example, studies have shown that exposure to a harmless soil bacterium called Mycobacterium vaccae can boost the immune system and reduce symptoms of allergies and asthma. Other studies have suggested that exposure to soil microorganisms may help to prevent autoimmune diseases by regulating the immune system’s response.
- Fresh air: Exercising outside exposes you to fresh air, which can help clear your lungs and improve your breathing.
- Increased vitamin D: When you exercise outside, you expose your skin to sunlight, which is the best natural source of vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for strong bones and a healthy immune system.
- Improved mood: Spending time in nature has been shown to improve mood and reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. Exercise also releases endorphins, which can give you a mood boost.
- Increased energy: Being outside and active can give you an energy boost and reduce fatigue.
- Greater variety: There are endless ways to exercise outside, from hiking to biking to swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, rollerskating. Trying new activities can keep your workouts fresh and exciting. Promoting an active lilfestyle where exercise actually doesn’t even feel like exercise.
- Increased creativity: Being in nature has been shown to increase creativity and cognitive function.
- More challenging terrain: Outdoor environments often present more challenging terrain, which can help you build strength, endurance, and balance.
- Cost-effective: Exercising outside is often free or low-cost, compared to gym memberships or home exercise equipment.
- Social opportunities: Outdoor exercise can provide opportunities to connect with others, such as joining a hiking group or playing a pickup game of basketball.
- Better for the planet: Exercising outside has a lower carbon footprint than indoor exercise equipment, and it helps promote a greater appreciation for the natural world.
Having recently qualified as a MovNat instructor and starting up classes in my local area I have become even more in love with working out, outdoors.
Every session seems to fly by in a moment. That’s the result of being outside, being playful and experimenting with movement. When workouts don’t even really feel like a workout because you are having so much fun.
I hope this article has given you some inspiration to get outside for your movement.
If you are local to me and what to come and join my sessions get in touch email@example.com