It’s easy to understand why people are attracted to gyms and fitness clubs. They have a fundamental magnetism rooted in the human need for community and routine. They’re predictable, accessible, and comfortable. They cater to our tendency to be creatures of habit and our undeniable need to be around like-minded individuals.
The latest scientific research, however, proves there are benefits associated with establishing a regular exercise regimen that have nothing to do with being in a gym, and everything to do with being outdoors in nature.
Whether it’s an organized activity or a simple commitment to walk the dog more often, getting outside to get fit benefits anyone and everyone.
When we engage in activity outdoors, our bodies change. We walk differently, exercise longer, burn more calories, and boost our Vitamin H2 (a.k.a. our health and happiness vitamin). Outdoor activity enhances our immune system, improves mental clarity, and most importantly, encourages an evolving personal connection to nature and the environment.
Time spent outdoors makes us more mindful and more intuitive. We become more present. We gain perspective and drop pretension. We connect to the natural rhythms of the world.
We become actively existent.
It also helps that outdoor activity is accessible, affordable, and convenient for anyone, anytime, and anywhere. Varying terrain and contrasting climates provide endless inspiration, incentive to explore, and countless teachable moments that hone our intuition in ways indoor gyms and health clubs cannot hope to match.
Recent studies confirm individuals who exercise outdoors score significantly higher on measures of vitality, enthusiasm, gratification and self-esteem than those who exercise exclusively indoors. They also score lower on measures of tension, depression and post-activity fatigue.
Yes, we’re creatures of habit, but we didn’t evolve to spend our lives cooped up inside four walls spinning some fancy modern version of a hamster wheel. We’re creatures of this earth; therefore, it’s best for us to acknowledge this and design our exercise and workout plans accordingly.
Since it’s abundantly clear a strong connection to the outside world provides positive outcomes for our physiological, emotional, and physical well-being, what are we waiting for?
Let’s commit to experiencing life. Let’s use the following tips to incorporate more “green-time” into our DLA’s (daily lifestyle activities):
- Find a park, path, track, trail or beach. If we can find a pleasant location to exercise close to home or work, we’re far more likely to adhere to a fitness regimen.
- Commit to a specific time of day. Generally speaking, the morning is a great time to exercise. Any outdoor activity is a rewarding way to start the day. It also ensures cooler temperatures and limits over-exposure to harsh midday sun.
- Wear proper shoes. Our feet are our foundation, so proper shoes are important. The right shoe will provide the support and cushioning we need to feel good and avoid injury. We need to find shoes that are lightweight, breathable, have a flexible sole and an ideal arch support. After we find the right shoe, we need to keep track of the number or miles we walk, run, or hike. We want to replace our shoes around every 300-600 miles.
- Understand proper hydration. Outdoor activity requires extra hydration, especially during summer months. We should drink a glass of water prior to heading outdoors to ensure we’re hydrated for the first 30 to 45 minutes of activity. We can also bring water along on longer runs, hikes, or bike rides.
- Find a buddy, join an activity group, or take an active vacation. Group activities and/or the buddy system can help us stick to our exercise plan. Taking an active vacation will not only inspire us, but also give us a fun adventure experience and do wonders for our overall sense of well-being.