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Summer sun makes exercise more fun

Exercising outdoors is more beneficial than being inside the gym – and we have the proof.

Now that summer is approaching and the weather is getting warmer, it’s time to seriously think about exercising outdoors. While it’s easy to get stuck in the routine of staying indoors and hitting the gym, it’s important to realise that there are many benefits to working up a sweat outside that climate-controlled environment. And we’re not just talking about trying to get a tan to complement your summer wardrobe. There is a lot to exercising outside in the sun and breathing in the fresh air.

Taking running for example: running indoors basically means sweating it out on a treadmill. Although that’s not a bad thing, running outdoors is definitely much better. You have a different stride when running outside and, thanks to sometimes-subtle factors like wind resistance and changing terrain, you work harder and burn more calories. Importantly, you can also incorporate some downhill running in your workouts, which is an important element that you can’t replicate on a treadmill. This enables you to stress your muscles in a different way and get a more effective workout. So if you want to get the most from your run, it’s time to find an outdoor route.

And it’s no different when it comes to cycling. A stationary bike demands a lot less energy that outdoor cycling. As tempting as this might sound, it means that you will burn fewer calories than if you are cycling on a conventional bike. So if you want to burn as many calories as possible in a shorter period of time, ditch the stationary bike and pedal out the door into the streets. You’ll soon notice the difference.

But it’s not just about burning as many calories as possible. Yes, you did read that correctly. Even though you might be aiming to get your body bikini-ready, and there’s nothing wrong with that goal, there is more to outdoor exercise than simply burning more calories in less time. Studies have shown that people who exercise outdoors enjoy exercising far more in comparison to people who train indoors. And enjoyment is not to be underestimated.

In fact, tests have shown that exercising outdoors enhances enthusiasm, vitality, self-esteem, pleasure, and mental well-being. What’s more, it also lowers levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) which in turn has the healthy benefits of lowering your resting heart rate and blood pressure. Getting a good outdoor workout also helps to combat tension, stress, fatigue, worry, anxiety, confusion, frustration and depression. In addition, there is evidence that the outdoor exposure to trees and plants can boost your immune system. The sun is also believed to have a role in enhancing the overall effects of exercising outdoors. It’s a well established fact that exposure to direct sunlight is important in order for your body to create sufficient vitamin D, which has a positive impact on your mood.

The mental and emotional benefits of outdoor exercise might be in part attributed to the attractive scenery that you can enjoy whilst exercising. It’s not difficult to see that natural surroundings like parks and trails are far more inspiring than staring at a television screen inside a gym. It has actually been proven that enjoying scenes from nature, even if you aren’t exercising, lowers stress, blood pressure and mental fatigue. So you can imagine the combined effects of enjoying nature and exercising at the same time. And then there’s the motivation that comes with it.

It has been proven that people who choose to exercise outside are far more likely to exercise more frequently and for longer periods of time. So exercising outdoors motivates you to increase your overall level of physical activity. It is also more likely to motivate you to commit to an exercise programme or regime and stick to it. Studies have shown that people who choose to exercise outside are far more consistent that those who go to a gym. So you’re more likely to stay committed to your goals and exercise regularly if you have outdoor workouts. And that brings us back to burning more calories for that lithe beach-ready body.

It’s conclusive: Exercising outdoors is better for your body, mind and soul. There’s no question that getting a good outdoor workout has many added benefits when compared to indoor exercise. Not only is it a more effective way to increase your fitness levels and burn those unwanted calories, it also has numerous positive effects on your emotional well-being. So no matter what your health and fitness goals are, you are more likely to achieve them (and in a shorter period of time) if you opt to sweat it out in the sunshine with some natural scenery. You’ll look better, feel better, and have a much more positive frame of mind. There’s no time to waste – get outside in the sun for the most effective workout.