Not many people are going to be tempted to set foot out of the front door on a chilly December morning to go for a run in the park or perform yoga alfresco but, with summer approaching, here are nine reasons why training outdoors will bring you extra benefits:
1) Get a dose of vitamin D. An essential part of our vitamin requirements, vitamin D is produced by our bodies during exposure to natural sunlight. A deficiency in vitamin D can increase the risk of depression, weight gain, heart disease and certain cancers so moving that run from the treadmill to the road can decrease your risk.
2) The London fresh air is good for your mood. According to Environmental Science and Technology magazine, being outside increases the positive effects of endorphins, released naturally during exercise, and can significantly improve our mood. Three quarters of those people they surveyed reported feeling less stressed when their exercise was taken outdoors rather than indoors.
3) It invigorates the brain. Exercising in a new location with new sights, sounds and smells promotes an increase in brain activity which means forming new neural pathways. Not only does exercising outside give your body a workout but it gives your mind one, too.
4) Distraction leads to longer workouts. Because your brain is distracted by the change in environment it is likely that your stamina can be tested for longer. Anything that shifts the focus from the exercise you are doing means your perception of time shortens. A five minute run on a treadmill can seem to go far more slowly than when you are pounding the pavements.
5) Get away from it all. Moving your training to the great London outdoors can be a way to leave behind all those gadgets, distractions or reminders of anything stressing us out. If you normally workout in a gym environment then getting away from the constant TV screens is a good thing. If you workout in your own home gym then you will know that there are constant distractions to prevent you from focusing all of your attention on your exercise.
6) Get a better workout. Whilst treadmills, exercise bikes and elliptical machines can simulate different terrains and allow users to select varied workouts the truth is that getting out into the great outdoors means you have no control over inclines, temperature, wind drag and other external variables. It is estimated that the calorie burn of an outdoor workout, over the same period of time when compared to indoor training, can torch up to 7% more calories.
7) Save money. If you spend money on using a gym then take a break for the summer and save the cash to treat yourself to something nice.
8) UVB exposure for health. As well as vitamin D, safe and short periods of sun exposure are good for our skin, mood, digestion and a number of chronic conditions.
9) No excuses. Whilst you can make up any excuse you like for not getting across town to the gym, there is no reason why you can’t simply open the front door and take a run, go for a cycle or use your own back yard for a simple workout.
If you are exercising outdoors then remember to stay hydrated, wear sunscreen and don’t train during the peak sunshine hours.