Why You Should Exercise Outdoors
The 5 Benefits of Being in Nature
For those that regularly read my blog, you know that I broke my Fibula 8 weeks ago. Although I found a way to continue my training and maintain my fitness, it all happened indoors. Working out was my saving grace as it helped me keep in shape physically however even more importantly, it helped me mentally and emotionally get through this difficult time.
What I didn’t realize was how much I missed doing my workouts outdoors in nature. Typically this time of year I am doing the majority of my workouts or activities outdoors. Whether it be running, cycling, skiing, X country skiing, snowshoeing or hiking, most of the activities I take part in occur outside.
My First Time Outside in 2 Months
This past week Barb and I went to Whistler for Laurens “last” Spring Break from school. It was the first time in 2 months that I was able to have my workouts outside as I only came off my crutches and cast 2 weeks ago.
The second day here, I got up before the sun came up and went Cross Country skiing. It hit me right away how much I have missed being and working out in the outdoors. The gorgeous sun was rising over the mountain tops, the nice cool air felt so great on my face and in the lungs, and the snow reflecting off the lake as I skied around it to name a few.
What I soon realized was that the real benefit of doing activities outside was more mental and emotional than it was physical.
I find tremendous benefits of being close to nature and having my workouts outside. I find that I am at “true peace” when I am outdoors in nature and all that it has to offer.
Below I have summarized the top 5 reasons why I love working out and doing activities in the great outdoors.
1.Breath Clean Fresh Air
We have all heard the tremendous benefits of deep breathing on our mental and emotional well being. I find nothing more invigorating than the feeling of breathing in clean, fresh air. Often when outside you can also smell the beauty of the Earth whether it be the sweet smell of flowers in the spring or the smell of pine trees that I experienced this week.
I find the real benefit of exercising outside is that it puts me in a super “happy” place and a very positive mindset. We have all heard the benefits of meditation. I find that exercising outdoors is the best way for me to meditate and often my best and deepest thoughts occur during my long easy outdoor training sessions. During outdoor exercise, I always seem to think of very positive things and often come up with my best ideas. Numerous studies have linked positive attitude and emotional and mental well being to exercising in nature. (Barton and Pretty, 2010).
I find that when I run or workout outside, it puts me in a mindset where I feel very close to earth and also the people in my life. I find that when I exercise outside I can’t help but think about a “higher being” and feel a strong connection to the earth whether it be the mountains, the fields, the trees or the lakes.
My Running Mantra
I have written previously about my practice of doing my “Mantra” while exercising outside. To summarize, here is a recap of my running Mantra.
Be in the Present – Here I truly try to live in the moment and notice all the beauty around me such as grass, snow, mountains, lakes, the sky, the sun or wildlife.
Appreciation – I think of all I appreciate in life and all I have to be grateful for. Gratitude is an amazing medicine for the mind.
Love – I think of all the people that I love in my life. This includes family, friends, and people that are no longer around that I think about regularly.
The Future Is Bright – Here I think about how positive the future looks and all the great things I have to look forward to in life.
To find out more about my Running Mantra, you can access it here in 4 Steps To A Positive Mindset
4.Sun Light – Natural Vitamin D production
The outdoors and access to the sun not only improves mood and energy, but it also promotes Vitamin D production (Kerr et al., 2015). I find that when I exercise outdoors it has a positive impact on my mood and provides me with amazing positive energy. The Vitamin D that is produced in the body from the Sun boosts the immune system, reduces inflammation and fights off illness.
I find that nothing is better for a great sleep than exercising outdoors that day. I personally experienced this over the past week with all the activities I have been doing outside (X country skiing, cycling, and skiing). On my most physically active days, I find I fall asleep very quickly and have a full restful sleep.
I find that exercising in the great outdoors has a major positive impact on my life. I find that exercising outside truly puts me in a very happy, positive place and has many benefits.
Here are the benefits that I think anyone can get from exercising outdoors:
1. Breathing Fresh, Clean Air
2. Emotional/Mental lift
3. Spiritual Connection with the Earth
4. Natural Vitamin D Production
5. Improved Sleep
Yours in great health and happiness,