5 Reasons Why You Should Take Your Workout Outdoors

Plus: Exactly how to get all the outdoor body benefits in one place.


Women's Health |

Think hitting the gym is hard? It’s even worse when the outdoors beckon you to ditch the four walls and stale air of the studio for some fresh air outside. So, stop ignoring your instincts! Nature is the perfect buff-body training ground. Don’t believe us? Here are five reasons to get training outside right now…

You’ll Go For Longer

You’ll be surprised how much faster time flies when you aren’t in the gym. “Changing your routine, seeing new faces, taking in your surroundings… All of this all helps to combat workout boredom,” says Robert Gotlin, director of the Orthopaedic and Sports Rehabilitation at Beth Israel Medical Centre. To top it off, a gruelling workout may not seem so, er, gruelling. “When you’re distracted by the environment, you’re less aware of your effort, like how much your quads burn.” Heck, you might even double your workout to 60 minutes without even knowing it.

READ MORE: How Often Should You Change Your Workout Routine For Best Results?

You’ll Blast More Kilojoules

It’s easy to get in a fitness rut when your body knows exactly what to expect from your gym machines like the treadmill, elliptical and stationary bike. “The varied terrain of a trail, park or an outdoor fitness event might be just what your body needs to challenge itself to move in varied, more complex ways,” says Stacy Berman. She’s the founder and creator of outdoor exercise class, Stacy’s Bootcamp. You’ll have the wind (Mama Nature’s form of resistance training), temps (the hotter the weather, the harder your body has to work to cool down) and other external variables. You can end up torching five to seven per cent more kilojoules just by trading the treadmill for trails. Yaas gurl!

You’ll Be Happier

Playing outside is like organic Prozac. “Breathing fresh air opposed to the recycled kind can create a feeling of euphoria, which comes from the body’s release of feel-good endorphins,” Gotlin says. “It’s not that your muscles respond better to it, but rather your mind does. This, in turn, makes you want to work harder.” Exercising outside also creates greater feelings of revitalisation, energy and positive thinking, more so than working out indoors. So says a report published in Environmental Science and Technology. What’s more, after a 30-minute walk in the park, 71 per cent of people feel less stressed, while 72 per cent of people who take their walks indoors actually feel more stressed. And the numbers don’t lie…

READ MORE: 5 Reasons Why You Need To Be At Fit Night Out Durban

You’ll Fight Germs

Gyms aren’t always the meccas of health we make them out to be. A whole slew of studies show that gyms are breeding grounds for germs and bacteria. MRSA is the most dangerous super bug you can catch at your fitness facility – it’s resistant to most antibiotics and can cause fever, rash, wounds and chest pain. Other less harmful infections include athlete’s foot, boils, herpes simplex and ringworm, according to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association. Yuck!

You can avoid these hazards with some general hygiene. Like washing your hands often, changing your socks daily, using foot powder, wiping down equipment before and after use and wearing flip flops in the shower. But you can also simply take your training to the streets. (Even Rocky left the boxing ring every once in a while to run around his ‘hood). Indoor air is two to five times more polluted than outdoor air, according to a study from the Environmental Protection Agency. If you’ve ever walked into a stinky gym, you know exactly what’s up.

You’ll Think More Clearly

Breaking a sweat outside may make you smarter. “Humans were hunter-gatherers and farmers for some 300 000 generations. We have only been industrialised for six to eight, so we are outdoor animals living largely inside,” says Dr Jo Barton, the lead author of a 2011 study that analysed the mental health of 53 people who were involved in indoor or outdoor activities for six weeks. “Closeness to nature increases our well-being – it has an immunising effect by protecting us from future stresses and helping us concentrate and think more clearly,” she says.

READ MORE: 5 Easy Ways To Refresh Your Fitness Routine

How To Get ALL Of These Body Benefits?

If you really want to feel the gees, plus experience all of these insane body benefits – get your paws on tickets to Women’s Health’s Fit Night Out in Durban. But hurry Durbs, tickets are selling fast and the event is just around the corner (22 June)! Buy them via Quicket… Seriously, you don’t want to miss this.

#FNO is powered by adidas in partnership with Powerade our official hydration partner, Montagu, Freesweet, Fry’s and Virgin Active. 

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