The Great Outdoors

Nature's Gym

running

While the gym is often the best choice for training when the weather's bad, there's nothing quite like heading outside for a lung-full of fresh air. This week we give you ten good reasons to hit The Great Outdoors.

1. Maximise More Muscles

On a cross-country run you'll experience a constant change of terrain, the need to change direction to avoid small obstacles and a variation of speed as the elevation changes. Try getting that kind of engagement from a treadmill!

2.  Lose Yourself 

Let's face it, staring at a wall for an hour is hardly the most inspiring view. With constantly changing surroundings you can easily forget how much ground you've covered and can look forward to the parts to come. 

3. It's In The Hills

Infinitely more inspiring than running up what feels like an elevator in the gym, nature's hills provide a clear finish line and will give you an intense work-out in a short space of time. 

4. Nature's A Healer 

Research has shown that exercising in nature can improve mental well-being and can even 
help with depression. Being exposed to plants decreases levels of the stress hormone cortisol, decreasing resting heart rate and blood pressure. 

[source: Dr. Greg Wells @ theglobeandmail.com]

5. Bust Those Bugs

Research has also shown that exposure to plants such as trees can improve your immune system. Scientists believe that airborne chemicals that plants emit to protect themselves from fungus, bacteria and insects [chemicals called phytoncides] may also benefit us. In a study published in 2007, people who took a two-hour walk in a forest had a 50% increase in levels of their natural killer cells. These cells circulate throughout your body and kill bacteria, viruses and fungus. 

[source: Dr. Greg Wells @ theglobeandmail.com]

6. Shout It From The Mountain Tops

Studies have also found that the outdoors has a positive effect on vitality, or your sense of enthusiasm, aliveness and energy. 

7. Get Your Vitamins

Vitamin D - one of the fat-soluble vitamins essential to strong bones and a healthy immune system -
can be obtained from sun exposure. Some researchers suggest that 5 to 30 minutes of exposure between 10am and 3pm at least twice a week is sufficient for vitamin D production. It is, of course, important to always wear sunscreen and cover up where possible during the warmer months.

[source: greatist.com]

8. Stand Tall 

Evidence from the University of Essex indicates that working-out in nature can improve your self-esteem. Not only that but you don't even have to go all-out; the researchers discovered low-intensity exercise had the biggest positive effects. 

9. Mix It Up

Most forms of aerobic exercise are repetitive and over time this can cause us to lose interest. 
Throw some variety into your run with intervals - if you're a jogger, you could add two minutes of running for every five minutes of jogging. Using natural markers such as lamp-posts to sprint between can make for an engrossing training session and can help improve overall speed.

10. Free-dom

What could be better motivation for getting outside than seeing your waistline decrease (if that’s your goal) as your bank balance increases from savings in gym fees?