Like most things in life, exercising and staying fit all comes back to what your mother used to tell you when you were a kid, get out of the house and go outside and play! Who knew mom was on the cutting edge of health and fitness back in the day? But hey, mom’s always right. [It certainly did not hurt to have my brother and I out of her hair and not breaking her Waterford vases for a few hours].
Well, turns out, mom and our grade school teachers both were right on target when it came to having fun, and about our health and fitness! The report card is in. In order to get the most out of any exercise and your fitness workouts, burn more calories and relieve stress, your workouts should be a lot more like school recess – just go outside and play!
Several recent research studies on outdoor fitness have concluded that exercising outside (in “green space”) is plain and simple, just better for you and your health. It makes perfect sense to me since my best (and most fun) workouts are almost always when I am outside in the fresh Seacoast air. So, if you tend to enjoy your outdoor workouts, runs, bikes, or yoga class more than working out in the gym, there is a very good reason for it, studies show. An article in the Mind & Body section of October’s Men’s Journal points to new fitness research indicating that “exercising outdoors lowers stress levels far more effectively than (working out) at a gym.” In addition, Michael Depledge, the lead researcher in the study, found that:
Outdoor exercise can burn up to 20% more calories than indoor exercise because your body has to fight to stay stable on uneven ground and maintain its temperature in all kinds of weather. (20% MORE!)
In the June issue of The Huffington Post Healthy Living section, an article titled “Outdoor Exercise: Health Benefits of Working Out Outside” further extolled the virtues of outdoor exercise (and working out in “green space”) as a stress reducer:
The most recent study polled nearly 2,000 active participants… and found that outdoor physical activity had a 50% greater positive effect on mental health than going to the gym. These researchers, from Glasgow University, found that walking, running, biking and other outdoor activities through green space lowered stress (levels)…
What is it about being in the great outdoors and exercising that makes us fitter and healthier (and less stressed)? Gym workouts for me, although I love a good, hard Bikram Yoga class or FIT TO LIVE workout, rarely compare with a hard, long run out to Newcastle, a bootcamp down at Prescott Park or a good bike ride to Rye and back. Well, there’s some science behind it all.
Countless health and fitness studies point to the increase in Vitamin D from our sun exposure during outdoor exercise as a major health benefit. As we know, being outside increases Vitamin D intake. So, logically spending more time exercising outside would increase vitamin D. And another recent study conducted by Harvard scientists (reported in the USA Today article: “Vigorous exercise boosts vitamin D while lowering heart risk”) revealed that Vitamin D plays a key role in the relationship between exercise and lowering our risk of heart disease.
Furthermore, other studies point to the benefit of natural sunlight in setting the body’s internal clock ~ so there’s even a sleep benefit to working out outside, and we all know how sleep does a body good. It’s obvious then, especially here on the scenic Seacoast where there is so much beautiful “green space” to go out, enjoy and exercise in, why not head on outside to exercise and keep fit?
All this fitness research is soundly conclusive and indicates that in order to be fitter and healthier, we all need to break out of the four walls at the office, the gym or studio and just get outside! And now is a great time to fit in some extra workouts outdoors before ol’ man winter comes a calling and darkness settles in later this fall. What more incentive do you need than this?: outdoor exercise WILL reduce your stress, improve your cardiovascular health, help you sleep better and help you burn more calories than with the same workout or exercises at the gym or a studio. So even though the days are getting shorter, now is the time to break down those walls, seek out some sunlight and (like mom always said) take your workouts and go play outside.
Apparently, our teachers had it right all along with recess. (I knew there was a reason it was my favorite class). When it comes to our health, fitness and happiness, we all need to make MORE time to go play and exercise outdoors. I’d have to say then that outdoor exercise is the new “IN”. I’m all in! I hope to see you outside for recess! Was that the bell?
*If you are looking for Outdoor Workout options/ideas for fall here on the Seacoast ~ Check out:
- Seacoast Outdoor Fitness with AJ ~ Like AJ on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/livefitordie. AJ is a certified trainer who runs creative, fun and intense outdoor workouts here in Portsmouth. *AJ is offering a complimentary bootcamp ~TRX circuit workout on Sunday 9/16 at 9:30 am. Meet at the lululemon showroom in Portsmouth to try it out!
- lululemon Portsmouth Showroom ~ lululemon Portsmouth features “Sweaty Sundays.” Every Sunday from 9:30am-10:30am, they host a complimentary boot camp in Prescott Park. All levels welcome, expect to get sweaty! They also host a Run Club on Wednesday’s at 6:30pm out of the showroom. All runners and distances welcome.
- Coastal Athletic Association ~ The CAA organizes weekly runs, track workouts and occasional bike rides for members. Many of their group runs start/end at Runner’s Alley in downtown Portsmouth and run throughout all four seasons, weather permitting. They welcome new members and the membership fee is only $20, which gets you some great discounts too! Get more CAA membership details here.
- Seacoast Bootcamp ~ Seacoast Bootcamp conducts bootcamp workout sessions both outdoors and indoors! Seacoast Bootcamp is run by a Retired US Army Master Fitness Trainer who will train you just like personnel in the US Army. Each session lasts for 1 month, and classes last 45 minutes and are held four days a week. If you are looking to be challenged, and for a way to lose fat, increase muscle tone and strength, and improve your overall fitness, look no further.