Working out is an important part of health and wellness. The typical guidelines tell you to get around 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise each week which ends up being about 30 minutes- 5 days a week. Instead of asking yourself if you should workout or not, the question should be “should i workout indoors or outdoors?”
Working out outdoors can provide a lot of benefits for your mental and physical health. Some of these benefits include getting some fresh air, you activate more muscles when you are working out outdoors, cheaper, and you get your daily dose of vitamin D.
Working out outside is free! This can save you a lot of money especially if you’re a college student or it isn’t included in your tuition. Gym memberships can range anywhere from $10- $100 which is very steep for most people, but especially if you aren’t working. One article stated “only 44% of gym users show up to the gym two or more times a week, with the average gym member making it only four times a month”. If you are paying $70 for a gym membership and only going four times a month, you should really reconsider. I know you can’t do everything outside that you might be able to do in a gym, but you can do a lot. If you are just looking for some basic cardio machines, it would be a good financial decision to buy some free weights and get your cardio in by running or walking outside. There are so many places and so many different exercises you can do outside. Stadiums, parks, and backyards are just some of the places you can get a workout in. You can think of the outdoors as your free gym.
Activate more muscles:
Running and walking outside is typically tougher than on a treadmill. There are so many places to run outside including beaches, parks, and even mountains. Outside you will encounter steep hills, uneven ground, bumps, and other obstacles. All of these obstacles keep you on your toes and activate a lot of muscles. Running on a beach might be more difficult than you think, and it all depends on the type of sand. Out of all the places I have run a mile, I was the most tired and winded from running on a beach in Florida. It also left me feeling more sore the next day than I typically feel from running or working out indoors.
Vitamin D is important for everyone, and especially athletes. Vitamin D reduces inflammation and pain while increasing exercise capacity and physical performance. Vitamin D can help to develop a healthy immune system, improve the development of bones, and improve your mood. Vitamin D deficiency is very common especially for people that don’t live where it is sunny all of the time. The deficiency can be linked to depression and seasonal affective disorder. Working out outside is an easy way to get your daily dose of Vitamin D. I know it might not sound the most appealing or the most fun on a stormy, gloomy, or cold day, but it can improve your mental health on a nice sunny morning or afternoon. A lot of Americans are deficient in Vitamin D, but this could change by eating the right foods or being outside for just 10-15 minutes a day in the sun.
If you are training for a race or a marathon, running & working out outside is the way to go. It provides more of the same environment/ obstacles that you will encounter during the race. The weather is so unpredictable especially in the midwest, so running outside will give you some experience running in different weather conditions.
Overall, I believe that running outside is better for your physical and mental health. It’s free, it activates more muscles, get your daily dose of vitamin D, and it is better for training. Even if you aren’t a big runner or training for a race, you can still get outside and go for a nice walk to clear your head or with your friends.
If you are new to working out or working out outside, here are a few reminders…
- Make sure to drink water before your workout
- Avoid really extreme temperatures! It can be dangerous if it is too hot or too cold
- Make sure you put on some sunscreen. As long as the sun is out there is always a chance that you can get burned.
Want more? Check out our sources below:
Shuler, F. D., Wingate, M. K., Moore, G. H., & Giangarra, C. (2012). Sports Health Benefits of Vitamin D. Sports Health, 4(6), 496–501. https://doi.org/10.1177/1941738112461621
Brown, Kelsey, and Dixie Stanforth. “Go Green With Outdoor Activity.” ACSMʼs Health & Fitness Journal, vol. 21, no. 1, 2017, pp. 10–15., doi:10.1249/fit.0000000000000264.