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Outdoor Exercise: Why it's so Important

Outdoor Exercise: Why it's so Important

Today more people than ever are living their lives in the confines of buildings. The typical worker goes from their home to their car, to their office building, back to their car, and back home. Throughout this entire day, these individuals only get a few minutes of fresh air. The rest of the day is spent behind windows and walls that separate them from the world around them. Even those that are physically active may fall into the trap of only going to an indoor gym. This further deprives them of the natural world around them. 

Going outdoors is incredibly important for your overall health. There is even a concept known as biophilia, a term created by humanistic psychologist Erich Fromm. The term is utilized to describe an innate subconscious desire for people to interact with nature to function optimally. This idea has translated into many different areas of our lives, with architects and interior decorators utilizing tools like natural light and plants to simulate the great outdoors. 

While there is an effort to bring the outdoors in, there is no real substitute for outdoor physical exercise. This article aims to discuss all of the reasons why outdoor exercise is important to your overall well being. 

Safe

At the beginning of 2020, the COVID-19 caused many people to put their lives on hold and to abide by state-mandated lockdowns. However, one thing that couldn’t truly close down during the pandemic is access to the outdoors. While gyms were forced to close their doors, trails, bike paths, and parks remained largely open. 

This is due to the lower transmission rate of the COVID-19 viral particles in aerosolized droplets while outdoors. Essentially the outdoors provides ample air circulation to sufficiently decrease the transmission of the disease from person to person. Additionally, parks allow people to maintain social distancing with ease as they have the expansiveness of the outdoors to enjoy. These two conditions allow for reduced risk when going out. 

Because the outdoors is relatively safe from COVID-19, there’s a strong and convincing argument for outdoor exercise. Maintaining an active lifestyle is important but reducing the spread of COVID-19 is imperative. Outdoor exercise allows for both to be accomplished without the need to compromise the other. 

Good For Mental Health

Mental health has been getting more attention recently compared to previous decades. With the COVID-19 pandemic, many were forced to remain in isolation for months to reduce the spread of the disease. Being isolated from the world around you and even living a life spent indoors can lead to negative mental health impacts. 

Going outdoors has been shown to reduce depressive and anxiety symptoms. Pairing outside time with exercise can further reduce these symptoms and allow you to get into a better headspace.

Many people try to get into a routine of going on afternoon walks or exercising outdoors regularly but fail to keep with it for a long period of time. Many people become bored with the same task every day, and a routine of doing the same exercise each day may not suit their style. Switching up your exercises and trying out something new and different can help you to get out of those ruts and get back on track to your fitness goals. 

One way to spice things up is to try out an elliptical bike. Elliptical bikes offer an opportunity to keep your mind and body engaged as you learn to ride through the streets on an elliptical. This engagement can help you maintain motivation and drive to continue your outdoor exercise, in addition to improving your cognitive functioning. Being excited about your workouts is important in staying consistent, and StreetStrider bikes are the perfect way to add excitement and engagement to your physical activity. 

Reduced Perception Of Effort

The saying “time flies when you are having fun” is a phenomenon that many people are familiar with. A less known but equally important aspect of having fun with outdoor exercise is that it can reduce the perception of effort

A review of the effects of outdoor exercise found that exercising in green spaces or spaces occupied with nature allowed people to exercise with a decreased perception of effort. Essentially when individuals were asked to perform a task like riding a bike indoors versus outdoors, individuals were more likely to work harder outside even though they did not notice that they were exerting themselves more. 

This finding could translate to better workout sessions if the same tools as the elliptical machine were brought to the outside. The StreetStrider 11s is a great way to get an elliptical full-body workout in the great outdoors. Taking the elliptical out of the confines of the building and putting it on wheels is not only fun but could also allow you to have more efficient and worthwhile sessions. Getting the most out of your time is important, and a StreetStrider 11s could be just the answer to allow you to get an outdoor physical activity that is fun and efficient at burning calories. 

Vitamin D

Going outside is essential for more reasons than physical and mental well being. Going outside is a necessary action to ensure your body can synthesize the essential Vitamin D. Vitamin D is a vitamin that needs sunlight to be absorbed by the human body. 

Taking your workouts outside allows you to make fitness progress and take in the fresh air while allowing your body to synthesize Vitamin D. The simplicity of taking your workouts to the great outdoors can allow you to ensure you have appropriate levels of Vitamin D in your body. 

Better Overall Health

Outdoor exercise is also important for the simple act of getting your body moving. Any exercise is important to maintain bone, muscle, and circulatory health. Outdoor exercise is no different. Outdoor activity puts your body to work like it was meant to. Compared to indoor exercise, outdoor exercise gains a slight edge because of the various surfaces encountered outdoors. 

Take exercising on a stationary elliptical versus on an elliptical bike as an example. A stationary elliptical is able to increase resistance; however, this is where the potential variations end for the indoor stationary elliptical. On an elliptical bike, you experience changes in incline, slope, resistance to different ground surfaces, the need to stop at stop signs, and much more. All of these variations engage more muscles and require a little more from your body.

The example above illustrates the benefit of getting outdoor exercise vs. the indoor equivalent. Not only can it provide a better workout, but oftentimes it is a much better time to cruise through the streets rather than standing still on an indoor machine. 

Conclusion

All of the benefits described above barely scratch the surface of the benefits of outdoor exercise. There are many benefits to outdoor exercise, from mood elevation to seeing better results from your workout. If you’re still a skeptic, try it out and be a judge for yourself. Take your favorite indoor workout and find an outdoor equivalent to utilize. You may become hooked and might just need to transition all your workouts outdoors. 

 

Sources:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3710158/
  2. https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/what-is-biophilia-plants-design
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/safe-activities-during-covid19/art-20489385
  4. https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthy-aging/rev-up-your-thinking-skills-by-trying-something-new
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