5 Reasons You Should Exercise Outdoors

Mike Coutu

Jun. 14, 2021

5 physical and mental benefits to enjoying an outdoor workout

It's finally summer! Patios, BBQ, parks, hikes, pools, and cottages are all the highlights of summer. What do they all have in common? Being outdoors. Another highlight to add to that list is exercise, specifically outdoor workouts. Hitting the park or beach or even your backyard to do your workout of the day can have many benefits. Below are five impactful reasons to exercise outside this summer.

1: Sunshine is good for you.

The bright sunshine beaming down on your skin triggers the body to produce more vitamin D. Vitamin D is best known for its ability to stimulate and absorb calcium which helps with bone development and strength. A deficiency can lead to brittle bones, osteoporosis, and a bone disorder called rickets. Deficiencies have also been linked to an increased risk of autoimmune diseases, increased cancer risk, metabolic syndrome, heart disease and depression. This is why people who are outdoors often seem to be so healthy and fit.

2: You burn more calories in less time.

A study completed by the University of Exeter found that runners who run on the road burn more calories than running on the treadmill, mainly due to the wind resistance. Furthermore, the human body has to work harder exercising outdoors than it does indoors. This is because inside the climate is controlled, however outdoors, be it cold or hot, your body works harder to regulate the internal body temperature. During the process of constant temperature regulation, the cells in the body are using so much energy (calories) to stabilize.

3: Stronger mentally and physically.

The body is battling natural stimuli to increase its immune system to protect itself. Fresh outdoor air has a higher quality of oxygen levels which allows for more oxygenated blood to get to the brain and muscles when taking a breath. This allows the brain to think more clearly and the muscles to produce more force. In addition to more oxygen levels, the sheer image and immersion of nature can help lower stress, since it has been shown to lower cortisol levels.

Outdoor workouts never are guaranteed to be on a flat, level surface. By working out on uneven surfaces, like sand, or hills your body has to work harder to adapt by using more muscles and brain power. One study from University of Western Australia found when athletes transitioned from grass to sand, significantly increased their aerobic fitness over 8 weeks, and reported less soreness and fatigue.

4: You’ll get a solid workout.

With everything going on around you at a gym it’s easy to get distracted and diminishing your workout intensity. There is also a limited amount of equipment and sometimes you have to wait for equipment that you want to use, which slows down your workout. Exercise outdoors however will allow you to keep focused on the task and push through some milestones. Some have noted that running outdoors compared to running on a treadmill at the same speed has a lower perceived exertion—which shows that you have the potential to work at a higher intensity outdoors. Besides, being outdoors on a beautiful day will make you feel better, and when you feel good you workout harder.

5: Increase the happy hormones.

A study done at the University of Queensland, Australia, found that individuals who exercised outdoors on a regular basis had higher levels of serotonin, a hormone that regulates mood, than those who worked out in a gym. They also had higher levels of endorphins, the rush you get after exercising or going for a run, especially in green environments such as a park. Being outdoors can defend against SAD (seasonal affective disorder), depression, and anxiety by experiencing all the beautiful landscapes while serotonin pumps through your body during the workout.