The birds are singin’, school is startin’, and the runners are out in force! This holiday weekend it’s the perfect time to change up your gym routine for fresh air and sun! You may love the treadmill but recent research suggests that outdoor exercise might have more health benefits than workin’ out at the gym.
Let’s take running, for example. Studies find that outdoor running offers many more benefits than running on the treadmill. Runners flex their ankles more when running outside. They also run downhill. This movement works different muscles than flat or uphill terrain running and isn’t often possible on the treadmill. Treadmill runners have been found to use less energy to cover the same distance than those running outdoors due to changes in terrain or wind resistance. Biking is much the same. Biking outside using a lot more energy than biking inside; much of that is due to wind drag.
Here’s other reason to ditch the gym for the road:
- You’re more likely to exercise again. A 2011 survey found that exercising outdoors is a reinforcing behavior – the study found that outdoor exercisers “declared a greater intent to repeat the activity at a later date” than gym rats.
- Exercise in the morning and you’ll get to bed easier. Natural a.m. light resets circadian rhythms, so it may be easier to nod off, say experts at the Lighting Research Center in Troy, New York.
- Improved attention and focus. A small study from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that kids with ADHD were able to concentrate better after a 20-minute walk in a park rather than a walk through city or neighborhood streets.
- You’ll feel more energized. A 2009 study from the University of Rochester found that just 20 minutes outside can rev you up as much as a cup of coffee, The Telegraph reported. “Often when we feel depleted we reach for a cup of coffee, but this suggests a better way to get energized is to connect with nature,” lead author Richard M. Ryan, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the university told the publication.
- Exercise will feel easier. Cyclists rated a ride 10 percent easier with a green backdrop, likely due to its calming effect, finds a study in Environmental Science & Technology.
- You’ll feel calmer. Exercisers reported being less tense and tired, and calmer, during any activity done outside rather than in, probably because those surroundings felt more serene, a Santa Clara University study notes. A few other studies have found that people have lower blood levels of cortisol, a hormone related to stress, after exerting themselves outside as compared with inside.
So get out there and get movin’ Rockheads!
If you love the outdoors and are an experienced buyer, check out the Careers section of the RBG website. We’re lookin’ for a buyer to help start our new outdoors sports site.