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Why Exercising Outside Is Good For Your

2 MIN READ • 11th April 2016

Prefer to tackle the treadmill than pound the pavements? Bodyfit writer Alison Davies takes to the great outdoors to discover the benefits of alfresco workouts

Do you feel the call of nature? Perhaps you’re more of an indoors girl and prefer structured workouts and the safe confines of the gym? Personally I can’t get enough of the great outdoors! It makes me feel energised and inspired, particularly when I’m surrounded by the lush green countryside. I’m not on my own. According to researchers, five minutes spent exercising in a park or the local countryside can really boost your mental health. This isn’t surprising when you consider that you’ll be exposing your skin to the sun, which in turn, helps your body make vitamin D. But there’s more to it than that. Scientists at the University of Essex carried out studies into ‘green exercise’ looking at evidence from 1,250 people and found that not only does it boost mental health, self esteem and mood, it also has a positive effect on physical wellbeing.

So how can exercising outside be good for you? Mother Nature’s uneven terrain offers plenty of challenges for those interested in getting fit and creating a lean, sculpted silhouette. For starters, running outside requires more effort. You have to engage your mind and think about balance and the constant changes of surface. As you move up and down hills, you’re working every muscle group as well as strengthening your core and developing flexibility. This is something that even the most hi-tech fitness machines have to work hard to provide. But what if running isn’t your thing?

There are plenty of other activities you can do outside to make a great workout. It’s about being creative and resourceful. Think of your surroundings as one big gym and use what you have to hand. The park bench might not look much, but you can use it for push ups, squats, dips and various stretches. The playground is the perfect place for a spot of endurance training. Place your hands on the ground and your legs on a swing and use it to make a plank, gradually moving the swing forwards and back to exercise your core. Climbing frames and monkey bars will tone your upper body if you alternate between hanging and climbing. Don’t be afraid to experiment and have fun. The buzz of being outdoors and the challenge of creating your own workout will increase endorphins making you feel amazing!

I’m not suggesting there isn’t a place for the gym, particularly on grey days when it’s pouring with rain or for convenience when you have a busy schedule, but going alfresco can be a rejuvenating experience. Engaging the senses while you work out will keep your mind and body stimulated, and for me, that’s what exercise is all about.


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