Outdoor Fitness: 'Why it's Good'

The beauty of training outdoors.

Run and Rescue
Serious outdoor training. Image from Run and Rescue (video below).
Taking into perspective the fitness world as a whole, it would be suffice to say that most people workout and exercise indoors. Safe from the elements and believing that as long as there exists weights and weight machines to use at their disposal their fitness needs can be met. While this maybe the only option of fitness some have, most, however, have the opportunity to seek fitness in the outdoors; within the elements.

The amount of research and literature on the advantages of outdoor fitness is astounding. The fact that many people prefer to exercise indoors to the outdoors is astounding as well. While there has been a surge in the number of exercise programs and businesses over the last decade that promote outdoor fitness, there still remain the stigmas or should they be labeled excuses when it comes down to it. "It's too hard to workout outside", "too cold to run today", "oh, there's snow on the ground, better stay inside" or "what do I use for weights if I am outside?" are just some of the quotes that come out in regards to outdoor fitness. There hasn't been a big enough shift yet for more people to embrace the outdoor experience, but it's coming. Here are just a few points that are worth considering:

  1. "One major benefit to outdoor training", says Cedric Bryant, PhD, chief exercise physiologist of the American Council on Exercise. "is that it tends to be more engaging and mentally stimulating due to the changing scenery and terrain -- not to mention the mood boost that comes from being outside in the sunshine."
  2. Exercising on a natural surface imparts tremendous benefit to your musculoskeletal system. Working out on a surface that is perfectly flat like pavement can in the long run cause a relative weakening of joints, tendon, ligaments and small muscle groups. (Metabolic Effect)
  3. In order to continue to improve musculoskeletal health, exercising on uneven or natural terrain like grass fields, trails, hills, and other obstacles should be utilized. (Metabolic Effect)
  4. Outdoor exercise bolsters your immune system -- studies show that moderate exercisers get 20 to 30 percent fewer colds than non-exercisers do. 
(Mayo Clinic)
  5. John Castellani, an exercise physiologist at the Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine states, "It turns out that even though cold can be frightening, more people are injured exercising in the heat than exercising in the cold".
  6. "There are some very real psychological and physiological benefits to balancing your exercise routine between indoor and outdoor environments"- Kate Larsen, PCC, certified and licensed wellness and business coach.

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Run and Rescue

The advantages of outdoor fitness go on and on, but I leave you with this:

"The health benefits of the outdoors are being utilized less and less with each generation. Currently, the average person spends greater than 90% of their time indoors. Think about it, most of us wake up, drive to work, work all day, and drive home to finish out our day relaxing around the house. The average person is lucky to be outdoors walking to and from their car. It is not uncommon for a whole week to come and go without ever being in the fresh air." (ME - 2008)


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