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The Benefits of Outdoor Exercise


From March 29th 2021, outdoor group exercise was allowed to recommence. This was significant for many of us: it allowed business to continue, provided an opportunity to see friends and to return to an exercise routine. Yet this is a long way from the warm ‘comfort’ of the gyms we were once used to, pre-pandemic. However, studies have shown that nearly 50% of members won’t be returning to gyms when they re-open (1)! With many of these individuals opting for outdoor activities instead, why could these people be benefitting more than those returning to indoor gyms?


Research shows that outdoor training adherence is significantly higher than the same training indoors for these groups (2, 3). This is important when we consider how many of us have struggled with motivation when training at home or just getting to the gym. We all have goals we want to achieve, and without adherence to training we render this impossible. It’s not surprising that adherence is greater for outdoor exercise when we consider that it is associated with greater positive feelings and increased energy when compared to indoor training (3). An assessment of studies with over 500 participants in total revealed that those who exercised outdoors reported greater enjoyment compared to when then trained in an indoor setting (3).


Arguably the most important consideration is the impact on our mental wellbeing. Just being outside has been found to help with problems such as anxiety and depression (4). A bit of fresh air and getting up close with nature is good for the mind no matter what the weather and combined with physical activity will benefit your physical health too. In a time when mental health may be more fragile than ever before, doing what we can to look after our emotional wellbeing is more important than ever. At the least, spending time in outdoor environments, particularly those with green space - like all of our training sites - is proven to relieve stress (5).


And of course, it goes without saying, that most days you’ll be guaranteed a good dose of Vitamin D! Hence, outdoor exercise is proven to reduce the risk of Vitamin D deficiency (6). Although it may not sound important, Vitamin D is vital for a healthy immune system, good bone health and stronger muscles.


Training in the outdoors also has huge physical benefits over the comfort of a conventional gym space. By training on often uneven terrain and battling the natural elements we create a tougher training environment before we’ve even started. Managing this will improve balance and core strength (7), which is undoubtedly the key to injury prevention, progress and improved overall strength.


Altogether, it is clear that outdoor training is incredibly beneficial and when done right it can be even more effective than training in a gym. So, if we’ve convinced you that outdoor training could be the change that you need for your exercise routine then book on to one of our classes today!




References


  1. Rizzo, N., 2021. Gyms Reopening: 46.67% of Members Won’t Return [online]. RunRepeat. Available from: https://runrepeat.com/gyms-reopening-coronavirus [Accessed 31 March 2021].

  2. Lacharité-Lemieux, M., Brunelle, J.P., Dionne, I.J., 2015. Adherence to exercise and affective responses: comparison between outdoor and indoor training. Menopause, 22(7), pp. 731-740.

  3. Thompson Coon, J., Boddy, K., Stein, K., Whear, R., Barton, J., Depledge, M.H., 2011. Does participating in physical activity in outdoor natural environments have a greater effect on physical and mental wellbeing than physical activity indoors? A systematic review. Environ Sci Technol, 45(5), pp. 1761-72.

  4. Mind. Nature and mental [Online]. Available from: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/nature-and-mental-health/how-nature-benefits-mental-health/ [Accessed 31 March 2021]

  5. Kondo, M.C., Jacoby, S.F., South, E.C., 2018. Does spending time outdoors reduce stress? A review of real-time stress response to outdoor environments. Health Place, 51, pp. 136-150.

  6. Manferdelli, G., La Torre, A., Codella, R., 2019. Outdoor physical activity bears multiple benefits to health and society. J Sports Med Phys Fitness, 59(5), pp. 868-879.

National Trust, 2020. Outdoor Gym [online]. NHS UK. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/Documents/National%20Trust_outdoor_gym.pdf [Accessed 31 March 2021]

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