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The Amazing Benefits of Exercising Outdoors

Exercise of any type is good for your physical and mental well-being. Whether you work out on a treadmill at home, attend a group fitness class at the gym or go for a hike in the woods, you'll be doing something good for your health. But here are some good reasons to get outdoors to exercise whenever you can:

  • You'll challenge your body. When you do the same workout day after day, your body starts to adapt and it can lead to overuse injuries or boredom. But when you workout outdoors, you can change the terrain and the conditions, so even doing the same activity feels different. Hiking in a park or the woods provides varied surfaces underfoot and changing elevation. The wind causes natural resistance when biking or running. And you can easily change the path you take or the conditions you encounter. You can't do that at the gym.
  • You can improve your mental health. Studies show that when you exercise in nature, it can help you reduce stress, anxiety, anger, depression, worry and other negative thoughts. Getting away from the typical sights and sounds of the day can give you a chance to relax and unwind.
  • It may feel easier. Research indicates that even though you may be exercising more strenuously outdoors – for example, you walk longer or at a steeper incline – you may feel like the workout is less strenuous than a similar indoor workout.
  • You're likely to enjoy it more. If you're outdoors enjoying the warm sun, a refreshing breeze or the beauty of your surroundings, you're less likely to focus on the exercise itself. After all, haven't you ever ventured outdoors, only to be surprised by how long you spent walking? One of the biggest factors in sticking with a regular exercise routine is enjoying it. If you like what you're doing, you're more likely to keep doing it.

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Date Last Reviewed: February 13, 2018
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Andrew P. Overman, DPT, MS, COMT, CSCS
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