Outdoor fitness, better for you

By Efrosini Costa

Outdoor fitness, better for you
Exercise is good for you no matter where it takes place, but are there be additional benefits to taking your workout outdoors.

Fitness enthusiasts have always been divided over the benefits of an indoor workout versus an outdoor workout.

While the gym can prove alluring, especially during this change of season – with its convenience, comfort, climate control, bright lights, blaring music and whiz-bang gadgets – there are advantages to an outdoor workout that just can’t be replicated on a treadmill, cross trainer or exercise bike.

However, there real benefits of outdoor exercise have come under the spotlight this week, with one Australian exercise guru going on record saying that outdoor personal training is deterring others from jumping on the fitness bandwagon.

So we decided to investigate what the benefits of outdoor fitness, if any, really are and this is what we found:

It’s all in the stride

According to a report, published in The New York Times this week, those who run outdoors flex their ankles more and even stride differently. The unpredictability of an outdoor path, with it’s hills, twists and turns, proves ideal for utilising various muscles associated with running on various terrain – something that isn’t easily achieved when running on a treadmill. Ergo, if you’re after a full body workout the great outdoors may be your best bet.

Challenging nature

The report also stated “outdoor exercise tends, too, to be more strenuous than the indoor version”. Recent studies, which compared the exertion used when running on a treadmill versus running outdoors, found gym runners expended less energy when covering the same distance as those striding outdoors. This is mainly because in a controlled gym environment, exercisers face no challenge from wind resistance or changes in terrain. The same goes for cyclists. So if you’re limited on time but want to burn calories head outside.

Great motivator

If you choose to embrace the great outdoors in your weekly fitness, chances are you will have a greater commitment, exercise longer and display a sunnier disposition. A study of senior exercisers last year found that those who chose to workout outside did so for longer than their indoor-workout counterparts – by an average of 30 minutes. They were also found to be more physically active, a fact attributed to the psychological and emotional benefits of fitness outdoors. Exposure to sunlight and increased absorption of Vitamin D will also make you a happier exerciser!

As the colder weather creeps it’s way into this season and settles into the next, its only inevitable that a warm enclose environment will see fitness enthusiasts moving indoors but it seems the advantages of outdoor workouts cannot be ignored. The best solution seems to be a healthy balance of both – especially for those reluctant, inconsistent or unmotivated exercisers.

What do you think? Do you prefer an outdoor workout to a session at the gym? Do outdoor fitness groups deter you from fitness? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below or join the discussion


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