As I write this we are moving through Autumn towards the colder, darker, damper Winter months. But this should not mean a temporary end to outdoor exercise and activities!
In Part 1 of this feature, I mentioned that there are numerous studies showing there are overwhelming benefits of outdoor exercise when compared to indoor workouts.
I have always been an outdoor girl but the benefits of outdoor exercise have come into even sharper focus for me over the last few weeks as I have taken the big step of moving back to the UK after 14 years in the Swiss Alps and establish a new working base.
My purpose-built studio is coming along nicely and will have lots of the latest kit as well as plenty of technology and screens to allow live broadcast and online training. I love the way my exercise and dance studio is shaping up. But it is what I’m developing outside the studio walls that really excites me!
We are lucky enough to have plenty of land, including rolling fields and a glorious woodland which follows a large stream. It is the definition of picturesque and I am creating a Woodland Workout Trail with many different stations as people weave their way through the glen and glades. There’s even a stunning ‘Green Lagoon’ which I am planning to build into the experience!
But all of this goes beyond giving people a great experience and an invigorating good time. It is about delivering the best exercise experience for real results.
And this is where the benefits of outdoor exercise are just not replicated indoors.
Let’s look at two of the most popular exercises and examine their benefits outdoors…
Running indoors on a treadmill means the process is exactly the same throughout. The platform you are running on is completely consistent, flat and unimpeding. And let’s face it, if you were on a running machine that wasn’t any of those things you’d be asking questions!
When running outside you stride changes all the time, often fractionally, sometimes more obviously. The same applies to your speed – outside you tend to runner quicker than on a treadmill. And these factors have an impact on your endurance and calorie burn.
Outdoors means a different terrain and inconsistent lie of the land. With every stride, with every foot plant, your brain is making a thousand computations to ensure that you cope with all these differences every second.
Your ankles will be flexing differently thanks to the difference in the ground beneath your feet and muscles are stressed differently throughout.
And of course, running outside can often mean running downhill – something that, as yet, even the most advanced treadmills tend not to accommodate!
The National Institute of Health in the USA concluded that considerably more energy is spent running outside when compared to running the exact same distance on a treadmill.
Similarly to running – cycling on a stationary gym bike might be warm, dry and convenient, but it really is nothing like cycling outdoors – even if you crank up the resistance.
Again, cycling indoors takes the thinking out of the equation. The brain effectively becomes dormant and there is nothing to consider other keeping the peddles turning.
Outdoor cycling, like running, demands an active and fully firing brain.
You will not be aware of it, but the mental processes and stimuli in this environment are astonishing. For every split second of the entire process, your brain is absorbing your surroundings in the minutest detail, it is calculating everything you need to stay in motion and stay safe and it is also on alert and in anticipation of anything that might come your way. None of these factors play a part when cycling indoors.
The Benefits of Outdoor Exercise – Conclusion
It has been shown in many studies that the benefits of outdoor exercise are considerable. People who exercise outdoors achieve better results. They are also likely to stick with their programme longer and they enjoy mental benefits too.
Health, fitness, wellness, vitality, enthusiasm, sense of wellbeing, greater pleasure, reduced tension, anxiety and depression – all shown to be heightened in an outdoor exercise setting.
So the benefits of outdoor exercise are clearly numerous and wide-reaching. Now if that isn’t a reason to wrap up this winter and get outdoors, then I don’t know what is!
If you are interested in joining me for workout programmes in my studio and/or my Woodland Workout Trails (and occasionally the beach!), contact me through www.joeybull.com or via Insta/Twitter – @joeybullfitness
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