With the spring season (finally) here, it’s time to take your workout outdoors, as a change in your training routine, will bring multiple health benefits to your mind and body.
A varied outdoor terrain challenges your body to move and respond in a different way and simply being out in the fresh air releases tons of feel-good endorphins. Not to mention that al fresco training helps combat any boredom-factor; this means you’re likely to work harder, faster and push yourself a little further without feeling the effort.
And if you need some further encouragement, it’s worth stating the obvious -the great outdoors is spacious and always ready for you.
Are you ready to re-connect with the outside world and accept challenges of the trails…?
Top up your vitamin D levels
Vitamin D is needed to keep and maintain healthy bones, teeth and muscles – healthy fundamentals when it comes to fitness. This vital nutrient regulates calcium and phosphate levels and is naturally produced within the body by ultraviolet B (UVB).
The NHS recommend healthy exposure of bare skin (legs, forearms, hands etc), without sunscreen during late March/early April to the end of September, citing this period as an optimal time of the year to get your vitamin D fix from direct sunlight exposure. Take care not to burn your skin, as exposure time varies from person-to-person.
Swipe the boredom factor
Challenge your body differently…utilise the range of objects within green spaces and local parks as fresh exercise equipment. From tree branch pull ups, park bench tricep dips or step ups, and using trees as benchmarks to intermit sprints and jogs.
Research suggests that people who exercise in the great outdoors reap rewards. Being outside helps you work harder and faster (and burn additional calories) and rack up extra time. This is because your mind is focused on fresh things: from the outdoor views, changing terrain and gradient, wind resistance, to your route navigation.
Feel lighter and smiley
Being outdoors may help fight off and/or lower depression and anxiety levels due to modulation of key stress hormones and the healthy increase in feel-good endorphins and serotonin secretion – which lifts and brightens your mood. Whilst the outdoors is inherently seen as an opportunity to boost to your immune system and improve immune functionality.
A 2015 study by Stanford University, California, found that students who walked through a campus park for just an hour improved their well-being, by being less anxious than those students who didn’t. Other studies have looked into the body benefits when people spend time in nature; there is significant positive impact on a person’s cortisol levels, (this hormone is often used as a marker in measuring stress), heart rate and blood pressure -resulting in a reduction, thanks to Mother Nature.
Prone to injury?
Regular treadmill users can be susceptible to over-use injuries, due to the repetitive motion on the flat surface, which can place stress on knees and ligaments. Switch things up, try a new surface. Uneven terrain makes your body work harder, which forces both the body and mind to respond to the unknown, and your training session becomes more efficient and effective. The UK has extensive outdoor options when it comes to nationwide bridleways and footpaths, find some near you.
Find your inner competitive streak
Sign up and commit to a race event -you’ll find numerous national 5K events near you. These events are suitable for all ages and fitness abilities. Team up with your friends and family; you’ll find family fun runs, local park runs and even colour runs.
The race event will bring out your competitive edge and boost your testosterone levels, which pushes you further.
Create positive, happy relationships
Outdoor activities which involve the whole family create healthy and harmonious benefits for all.
Whether you choose cycling outdoors, ball games, family park runs or outdoor water sports -outdoor activities are a great way to bond as a family and improve relationships.
In turn, this helps foster happier relationships: from sharing laughter together, to family members sharing their thoughts and affections with each other.
And for the kids, the great outdoors enables them to explore fresh environments and master new skills, such as developing co-ordination, increasing their flexibility and boosting their self-confidence.
Ask our expert personal trainers for advice and guidance on exercising outdoors at your nearest David Lloyd Club.