Ever heard the saying "you're just one workout away from a good mood"? We totally live by this, and some of us prefer hitting the gym while others go outside in rain or shine. Have you ever thought about how your satisfaction, the efficacy of your workout, and your mood might differ if you exercise indoors or outdoors?
There are some physical differences between working out indoors on stationary equipment or outdoors, but the major differences have to do with mental benefits. I'll take you through both so that you know when it might be nicest to go to the park with your #BFFF like Fit Girl Vladana and I did today instead of hitting the treadmill or the elliptical at the gym.
Pssst: there is a surprise on the last page if you read through the entire article!
Get the most out of your workout
The gym has some obvious benefits, especially in terms of predictability and convenience- you know exactly when the gym opens, closes, and what the temperature will be like. The presence of many different types of equipment in the gym is also practical if you plan to, for example, do a circuit training on your own and are not able to carry kettle bells, mats, barbells, and stability balls around with you. Going to the gym is a safe bet if you want to squeeze in a great WOD when the weather outside is just not on your side. However in terms of getting the most out of a workout, you're better off taking your booty outdoors.
When running outside you are faced with wind resistance and different types of terrain, both of which are not present when exercising on a treadmill. The same applies to cycling. If you go for runs through your town or a nearby park, you might also have to deal with things such as random rocks, other people, and uneven paths, all unexpected obstacles that require more ankle flexing and coordination. Training outdoors can help improve your reaction time and hand-eye coordination in non-fitness situations as well. However if you want to get an outdoor-quality jog in at the gym, studies show that typical wind resistance can be replicated on a treadmill by setting the incline to between 1% and 1.5%. Keep in mind that many other beneficial aspects of running outside, such as going downhill, are not feasible in the gym.
We want to be lean and strong, and body weight training is ideal for building this type of shape. Doing a basic squat might be more beneficial than a leg press on a machine since it not only works your upper legs but also requires balance and engagement from your toes to your core. If you can, trade in a couple of your equipment-heavy workouts for some high-energy body weight exercises outdoors. There are no machines in the park!
The less controlled environment of an outdoor workout compared to the gym results in the need to use more energy to complete the same exercise, distance, or speed and thus to burn more calories and build up more of a sweat. So if you have the choice and want to make your workout more effective, lace up and head outside!
Mental benefits of exercising outdoors
Perhaps the best reason to go work out outside is because you are likely to experience higher vitality, enthusiasm, pleasure, self-esteem, energy levels, and satisfaction than if you regularly exercise indoors. Oh baby! An obvious and important reason for this, in addition to the physical benefits, is your exposure to the sun and to fresh air. Vitamin D is crucial to keeping your energy level and mood up, especially during the winter. Just 20 minutes of outdoor exercise per day can significantly lower levels of tension, depression, and anger.
Engage yourself in your surroundings
Do you often listen to a podcast or try to read a book while on the elliptical or another indoor machine? You might not be surprised to know that your performance depends highly on your level of involvement in your activity. When you exercise outside, you will have an easier and more enjoyable time focusing your energy on the nature and movements around you and on the activities you are doing to sculpt your body and invigorate your mind. I always think back to the phrase displayed on the wall at Elevator Sports in Rotterdam: "Focus, Inhale, Exhale, Repeat".
White Mesh Muscle Tee, Jogha; Shorts and Leggings, MyProtein
If your enthusiasm and energy levels are higher, you are also more likely to enjoy your workout and to exercise longer and more often. The great outdoors is a playground ready for your fitness routine and is a wonderful and fun way to spend a summer day with your BFFF.
Do you like the clothes you see in this post? The new MyProtein women's clothing line is now available and you Fit Girls can enjoy 25% off the collection with the codes FGCODE (UK site) and FGCODENL (NL site). Note that the codes expire on the 30th of September. Remember to tag your outdoor workout photos and videos on social media by using #FITGIRLCODE, you all inspire us to continue doing what we do!
Now grab a friend, some SPF, your workout gear and get your Fit Girl booties outside!