Here in Wisconsin, we know how tough the winter can be where your body is concerned. We are coming out of a season of cold, intense temperatures and conditions. While our bodies acclimate, it can be hard to weather the storms of cold and snow, and it isn’t always possible to be outdoors as much as we might like. As the seasons change, take advantage of the milder temperatures to get outside more. Below are some reasons why outdoor exercise is good for your mind, body, and spirit.
A Tougher Workout
Being outside means contending with changing conditions. For example, when you walk on a treadmill, you will be completely controlled in your speed and incline, and the temperature is consistent. There is no wind. The ever-changing conditions during an outdoor walk will push your body to work a bit harder, gleaning a better workout. Consider light gardening or yard work; a 155-pound person can burn upwards of 330 calories per hour doing this moderate exercise. (USDA)
For the frugal among us, exercise outdoors is completely free, and accessible to all. Any time you feel like it, you can take a walk outdoors, work on a small plot or pot, hike through some woods, or just shoot some hoops. Think back to your childhood, and all of the games you were able to play with little or no equipment. Hopscotch replaces an agility ladder, a tree branch becomes a pull up bar, a step becomes a bench to do triceps dips, etc. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.
A Dose of Vitamin D
Much has been made about the sun and potential damage, but it does stimulate our bodies to produce vitamin D, a crucial vitamin for your health. If you’re overweight, it’s even more important to get some: overweight people are more likely to be deficient (1). We synthesize vitamin D from sunlight, so one way to get enough is to expose your bare skin to the sun for a small amount of time per day – up to about 1/2 hour. People with light skin will make vitamin D faster, and will require less time, while people with darker skin will need slightly more time. The time of year, how close you are to the equator, and time of day can also be factors in absorption and synthesis. Of course, you can always take a supplement.
The varying terrain, plants and trees, and weather variances change up the exercise for your mind, as well. Variety keeps us motivated and moving, so exercising outside can help you keep your program interesting. The fresh air, sunshine, and milder temperatures culminate in helping your soul feel more at peace. And don’t we all need a bit of that?
Ready to give outdoor exercise a try? Here are some ideas to help you get started! As always, if you need additional help or a new program, come see me for a free fitness consultation!Set up a Free Fitness Consultation
Written by Melissa Abramovich, ACE CPT, NASM CGT, AAHFRP Medical Exercise Specialist at Elite Sports Club-River Glen
Melissa Abramovich went into Personal Training and Group Exercise instruction after successfully losing 140 pounds through healthy diet and exercise. Her desire to help others drove her forward into a career helping others to make healthier choices. She is an ACE certified personal trainer and now also a Medical Exercise Specialist (AAHFRP), helping clients with a myriad of health issues at Elite Sports Clubs. She holds a Bachelor’s degree, and many group exercise related certifications as well.