You know exercise is important. You make your way to the gym despite that slight feeling of dread that creeps up now and then. You always feel better afterward, but what if you could feel good during your workout too? Research shows something you always instinctively felt anyway, outdoor exercise is a better option on the path to wellness.
The great thing is, you’re more likely to enjoy your time and the exertion will feel easier than your gym time. Connecting with nature not only feels good; it is good for you.
When you connect with nature you also connect with yourself. A mind-body connection isn’t just for the yoga crowd.
Walking and hiking are 2 ways of exercising outdoors that feel good and you can take at your own pace. You can go at the time that suits you and you don’t have to worry about gym hours or somebody waiting for your treadmill.
Did you ever say to yourself, “I wish I didn’t have to go for a walk on that pretty walking path today?” You probably haven’t. That’s because exercising outdoors is much more enjoyable than doing gym duty.
Here are some benefits to exercising outdoors you may not have thought of:
Gives you a feeling of freedom. Your mind is constantly engaged with different sights and sounds. You aren’t staring at a wall or a T.V. screen.
Your brain likes the fact that you’re actually going somewhere, as opposed to walking in one spot on a treadmill. It’s a more natural experience.
A feeling of serenity passes over you as you observe trees, other people, and listen to the wind rustling through the leaves.
It clears your mind. You’re not waiting for the drudgery to be over. Research shows that people who exercise outdoors are 50% more creative and have a better memory.
Like people who do yoga- walking and hiking outdoors give your mind a chance to rest and free-flow with ideas.
People underestimate the importance of unplugging from screens. You can’t completely get away from T.V. and phone screens at the gym. Screens give us a mental fatigue we need to let go of for optimum wellness.
Nature affects the chemicals in your brain. It’s been documented that nature sounds produce a calming effect on the brain. Insomniacs rejoice that these sounds have been shown to settle an unquiet mind to produce calm and peacefulness.
Research shows that an average of 30 minutes a day of outdoor exercises such as walking or hiking lowers high blood pressure and depression.
A study by the University of Queensland in Australia showed those who exercise outdoor regularly have higher levels of serotonin.
In addition, hiking reduces the likelihood that you’ll over-think and dwell on unpleasant emotions and experiences. None of us ever do that, right? But if we ever did, it’s nice to know there is a way of staying more positive and in a more balanced state of mind.
You’ll get a better workout, with less effort. When you’re at the gym going through the motions on the machines and trying not to watch the timer on the treadmill, exercise becomes a chore to be completed.
Research shows you’re likely to do more activity and you’ll experience a decrease in tension when walking or be hiking outdoors. Basically, you’ll do more without realizing it.
When hiking there is constantly changing terrain which works many different muscles and connectivity tissues. Those specific muscles aren’t used to being worked in an unchanging, repetitive environment. Outdoor walking teaches the body how to adapt and enhances strength in less time.
Even slight wind resistance increases your workout. You may not notice because you’ll be busy looking around, taking in your ever-changing environment.
Hiking has benefits you can’t emulate at the gym. It boosts bone density, muscle strength and has been shown to be a better workout when compared even to running on a flat surface.
Consider outdoor exercise for wellness
exercising outdoors, even in a city. There are parks, scenic downtown areas, and other areas near your home you may not have explored. There are many options for exercising outdoors, even in a city. There are parks, scenic downtown areas, and other areas near your home you may not have explored.
When your perspective is positive because you aren’t dreading your exercise routine, your body will get more out of it. Not to mention, many walking trails have water stations and bathroom facilities, making it an unbeatable way to enjoy your exercise.
You might feel guilty because you aren’t suffering through your workout anymore, but then again, you might not.
By: Kathleen LeSage, Author & co-owner of www.newlifehikingspa.com