The Perks of Outdoor Fitness for Your Mind and Your Mood

by Alison McIrvin
The Perks of Outdoor Fitness for Your Mind and Your Mood

We all know we feel better when we get outside and play in the great outdoors, but science and medicine is backing it up. Benefits to the mind and mood from outdoor fitness were corroborated in a study published in Psychosomatic Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine. The study showed the relationship between exercise and reduced need for anti-depressant medication. But wait! There are even more benefits to getting active outside:

  • Boost vitamin D levels and beat serious disease. The Health benefits for combatting a range of diseases from heart disease to cancer has been linked to those who get out and boost their vitamin D levels through sunshine. People with lower vitamin D levels double their risks to heart disease. Our society and lifestyle has dramatically reduced the amount of time we spend outdoors. Just 20 minutes outside with no sunscreen on provides the daily dose of critical vitamin D needed by most individuals. Just be sure to apply your sunscreen after 20 minutes, and of course if you are in hot climates or it is the height of summer, this should not be done at noon.
  • Fresh air: Most of us work in such climate controlled environments or our homes are so tight and energy efficient that we get very little fresh air. Sorry, walking through the parking lot or from your bus stop in the city really doesn’t qualify as “fresh” air. Taking a little extra time to walk through the park or along the lake front boardwalk will fill your lungs with some of that good, fresh oxygen! Better yet, find some local hiking spots and hit the trail.
  • Enjoyment: It is just plain more fun to exercise outside! It takes us back to those carefree days in our youth, and memories of recess at school (assuming you had GOOD recess memories?). There is just something about getting active outside that feels a whole lot more like play than is does work, so take advantage of that. When it just feels so much better than working out in a gym, it most likely IS!
  • Self-esteem: Just getting out and doing something outside boosts our self-esteem, we feel we have done something positive for ourselves and it feels good. We all know the good feelings that come with completing a good workout those feelings are increased when exercising outdoors. Taking that 20 minute walk outside on your lunch break is certainly going to leave you feeling better about yourself than if you stayed in the lunchroom.
  • We work harder and longer: When people walk outside as opposed to indoors on a treadmill, they tend to walk harder and longer. Working out outside, their rating of perceived exertion is reduced and surprisingly, they feel more energetic and less taxed even though they worked harder. The fun factor makes things feel less difficult, therefore people tend to work harder and for longer duration outside.

So get on out there today and breathe deeply, turn your face to the sun and PLAY!  What benefits are you seeing in your life as a result of getting active outside?

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Alex Chambers April 29, 2015 - 3:36 am

I love being outside when it’s warm out so much that I’ll take any excuse to get out there. Dreaded having to mow the lawn when I was a kid… now I eagerly wait for the grass to grow so I can mow it again. Same thing for running… which I still pretty much dread now, but if I can run outside I don’t dread it as much.

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[…] will boost your mood, potentially reducing a dependency on anti-depressants, while also making you half as likely as someone with low levels of vitamin D to develop heart disease. People these days spend so much […]

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