You might not feel inclined to go running at 6am when it’s snowing and dark outside. But as it’s lighter, drier and warmer, now is the time to consider moving your workouts outdoors and multiplying the benefits!
Humans weren’t meant to be locked up in dark, artificially lit and heated (or cooled) buildings from morning until night. If you’re feeling a little sluggish or finding your energy lags during the day, try workout out outdoors and you’ll very likely see huge improvements in your overall health and vitality.
And a 7 minute outdoor workout is all you need!
Outdoor Workout Benefits
1. You Burn more calories when exercising outside
Unless you live in a very hot area, lower temperatures outdoors will mean your body burns more calories to keep you warm, plus wind resistance and uneven grounds add extra challenges for your body to work against.
Plus there are so many opportunities and resources (all free!) outside you might not have considered using in a workout. For example park benches, monkey bars or steps and slopes. Some parks even have dedicated trim trails that are a fun but challenging obstacle course.
2. Improvements in mood
A 2011 study found that outdoor exercise was associated with greater decreases in tension, confusion, anger and depression when compared to indoor activity. A 2010 study showed improvements in mood and self-esteem after just five minutes of exercise outdoors. Plus, fresh air and increased oxygen releases serotonin, the feel good hormone.
3. Better focus and concentration
Kids with ADHD had better concentration after a walk in a park than the same amount of time walking in a city. It’s likely to be exactly the same for adults, especially for people who have desk bound jobs where they are stuck indoors sitting for most of the day.
4. Vitamin D is topped up
The majority of our vitamin D comes from sun exposure rather than through food. Vitamin D is important for skin and bone health as well as mood and metabolism, so being deficient is not going to make you feel your best. Getting some sunshine, even if the sky is overcast, is better than staying indoors all day.
5. More energy
A 2009 study from the University of Rochester found that 20 minutes outside can increase energy as much as a cup of coffee!
6. More likely to continue exercising
Exercisers who worked out outdoors declared a greater intent to repeat the activity at a later date than gym goers, as reported by a 2011 survey. Plus, the eve changing environment, either by location or simply the weather and who else is in the area around you, provides new stimulation and interesting surroundings, so you’re less likely to get bored.
What you’ll need
Standard workout gear of sensible shoes, layers so you can strip off as you get hot, a hat and sun cream if necessary, and a drink should be the basis of your outdoor workout gear. A towel in case equipment or the ground is damp might come in handy, especially after rain or if you’re going out early when dew is on the ground.
A roll up workout matt will mean you won’t have to lie on the ground, and finally look for somewhere that has resources you can utilise such as a bench or climbing equipment.
Always start with a warm up to get your heart pumping, blood flowing, and joints lubricated. Spend 5 minutes warming up before you workout, then finish with 5 minutes of stretching. Add layers of clothing back on as you cool down.
The 7 Minute Out Workout
Do the following exercises for 30 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds before moving on to the next exercise, totalling 7 minutes. It’s an intense workout but with only 7 minutes to spare you’ll need to make the most of it.
The benefits and efficiency of High Intensity Interval Training are well documented, so just because you can fit it into the tightest of lunch breaks doesn’t mean you won’t be making huge progress in your fitness!
1. Jumping jacks – as fast as you can jump from standing straight to a star shape and back again.
2. Wall sit – lean up against a wall or tree on an imaginary chair, holding your core tight to stop from falling over.
3. Push ups – full body if you can, otherwise place your knees on the floor.
4. Crunches – use your core to sit up from a lying position, knees bent.
5. Chair step ups – alternating legs, use a sturdy bench.
6. Squats – squeeze your glute muscles as you stand back up from a sitting position, keeping knees over your toes rather than falling in or forwards.
7. Tricep Dips – using a bench. Point your elbows backwards and let your arms do the work rather than bobbing your core up and down.
8. Plank – find a dry space or on a matt. Keep your body nice and straight!
9. High knees – on the spot sprints as fast as you can.
10. Lunges – alternating legs. Reverse lunges (stepping backwards) are an alternative.
11. Sprint – as fast as you can for 30 seconds
12. Cartwheels – a fun one to end. If in doubt, watch the kids!
The combination of physical activity, fresh air and sunshine is the reason gardening and outdoor team games like cricket, rugby and football are so popular. But if you’re not green fingered and prefer to exercise alone, give this outdoor workout a go and make the most of the benefits nature has to offer!
Connect here with WatchFit expert Pollyanna Hale