Benefits of Outdoor Exercise

Kinder, Gentler, Inspiring Ways to Move Mind, Body, and Soul

Exercise. We don’t know about you, but hearing that word makes us think of lots of things – and none of them fun; work, sweat, pain, putting on clothes we don’t like to be seen in public in, or even feel good in – and then there’s the the gym. UGH! There’s got to be a better way, right? Well, what if we told you there is! What if we told you there’s a way to burn calories, strengthen muscles, and sweat, all while clearing your head, finding joy and reclaiming inner peace? Sound too good to be true? Well, it isn’t! Exercising outdoors is the preferred fitness choice of some of the world’s most beautiful, and most successful, people. Research has proven that exercising outdoors is more than just physical, it’s meditative too! In one study, researchers found that exercising outdoors “was associated with greater feelings of revitalization, increased energy and positive engagement, together with decreases in tension, confusion, anger and depression. Participants also reported greater enjoyment and satisfaction with outdoor activity.” Spring is coming – and what better time to get out of the house and out into nature. The weather is warming, the flowers are blooming, the sun is shining – and the earth is waking up, ready to welcome you. Hike Head for the hills, we say. Besides burning lots of calories (up to 500 per hour), hiking hosts a myriad of emotional and physical benefits. Research shows that using hiking as an additional therapy can help people with severe depression feel less hopeless, depressed and suicidal. It may even inspire those suffering from it to lead a more active lifestyle. For those who don’t suffer from depression, hiking still offers mental benefits. “Being out in nature, away from the business of our daily lives and technology, can allow people to connect with themselves and nature in a way that brings about peace and a sense of well-being,” Leigh Jackson-Magennis, REI Outdoor Programs and Outreach New England Market Manager, tells The Huffington Post. And all those trees can’t be bad for you either! Breathing in all that clean air will invigorate you, which will help you sleep more soundly, and that’s good for your skin! Beach If you live near the ocean, you’re one of the lucky ones. A long walk on the beach boasts amazing physical and emotional health benefits, not to mention beautiful views! Walking on a beach in the sand is so relaxing that most people walk further distances than they normally would on treadmills, tracks or city streets. Walking in sand requires 2.1 to 2.7 times more energy than walking on hard surfaces, so you’ll be burning more calories and health advocates say that walking barefoot grounds us. At the very least, it reconnects us to nature’s beauty, which helps reduce stress as life finds perspective. And then there are the negative ions. Negative Ions are the invisible healer. Negative ions enhance our mood, stimulate our senses, improve appetite and sexual drive, provide relief from hay fever, sinusitis, bronchial asthma, allergies, migraines, even post operative pain and burns. Negative ions stimulate the reticuloendothelial system, which is a group of defense cells in our bodies, which marshal our resistance to disease. Negative ions promote alpha brain waves and increased brain wave amplitude that results in a higher awareness level. The body is better able to absorb oxygen into the blood cells, oxidize serotonin and filter airborne contaminants. We’ll have what she’s having! Other Outdoor Recreation Can't get to the hills, or to the beach? No problem! A walk around your neighborhood, local high school track, or park will do the trick! Just the act of being outside in nature will stimulate good feelings, lift your spirit, improve your mood, and get the creative juices flowing, not to mention provide the physical benefits associated with walking.
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes
  • Strengthen your bones and muscles
  • Improve your balance and coordination
Want to amp up your outdoor results? Do it barefoot! Grounding or Earthing, brings us back to a neutral, balanced state when we make direct contact with the earth. Negative ions from the earth’s surface rush into our bodies to discharge the many unpaired positive ions, or free radicals, we’ve picked up in daily life. Those free radicals are associated with disease, aging, and inflammation, and when you expose your bare skin to the soil, grass, or even concrete, the earth’s healing powers swoop in to save the day. What ways are you exercising outdoors and what benefits are you experiencing? Share it with us in the comments. Sources: Mayo Clinic, Discover Walking, Prana VIew Australia, Huffington Post,