Stepping outside of the gym has a number of great benefits.
“The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” — Alexander Supertramp Mccandless
EDITORIAL DISCLAIMER: Any advice or recommendation given in my writing is what works for ME and may not be the best regimen for you based on your psychological or physiological makeup and stability. Please consult a doctor when making decisions about your health.
When COVID first started, I found myself trying to find every way in the book to spice up my workout routine to stay healthy and in shape.
Since I was not able to go to the gym anymore, I had to look for a number of different ways to continue to challenge myself and prevent those COVID pounds from forming around my mid-section.
As I began to explore different options and landed on calisthenics as the new training regimen of choice, I realized I needed more space to perform various exercises that I couldn’t do in my room.
Therefore, I began to work out on our back porch so I wouldn’t break anything or hurt myself.
As I continued to develop my abilities over time, I started to realize that I wasn’t just looking forward to my workout because it was helping me stay in shape and improve my fitness level, but there were also a number of benefits from actually being outside that yielded very positive results.
Gives you more variety in your scenery and workout
While I was working out in my room, the only thing I was looking at were the closet doors and clothes in my closet.
As you can imagine, this was not very inspiring and did not typically make me want to work out harder. Instead, I would just zone out while listening to a podcast.
When I started working out on my balcony, however, I found myself much more engaged in my surroundings and just enjoying the 60 seconds between sets because I was looking at all that was happening around me.
Whether it was to look at a neighbor who was playing the guitar on the balcony across from me or checking out what was going on at a party being thrown at our pool, exercising outside often just made for a more interesting experience.
If you are running or biking outside, this can provide a sense of excitement before the workout because you could decide to take different routes to explore different parts of your neighborhood or a trail.
This variety will make the workout seem much more like an adventure that you are looking forward to instead of something that you feel you HAVE to do.
You’ll often just naturally work out harder
When working outside, it just seems that you naturally push yourself a little harder because of a number of potentially different factors that seem to encourage this.
For me, when I run outside, I often find myself comparing my speed and effort to those who I also see running. This usually makes me pick up the pace a little bit to make sure I’m pushing myself to my highest capacity possible.
When I’m running and measuring my speed against another person, bicycle, or car, the pain just doesn’t seem to hurt as bad because I have something that is providing a specific focus at hand.
Outside of that, often just the beauty of the terrain has a tendency to distract, and individuals may naturally put in a much stronger effort without even realizing it.
Research shows people who exercise burn up to 10 percent more calories when they walk or run outdoors as opposed to working out for the same time on a treadmill or just inside a gym.
There’s also the fact when you are running outside, there is a greater likelihood that the terrain will be a bit unstable and you’ll be forced to change your pace and adapt to various things along the way.
This often will increase the difficulty in your workout and force you to burn more calories.
And lastly, and somewhat superficially, when working out outside, spectators can often encourage you to work out a bit harder.
This affects me on my balcony, as I’m always want to make sure that I put in a good effort with any exercise I do so no one is able to look at me and think that I was giving a halfway effort in any capacity.
Improves your mood through direct contact with sunlight
With everything being so confining with COVID and the fear of depression becoming a very real thing for many people who would have never thought that could be a possibility, anything that can stave this off and keep one’s mood high is something that I would suggest.
One of the major benefits of working outside is the effect direct sunlight can have on your overall mood and mental health. In one study, it was shown that individuals who did some form of movement outdoors saw their anger and depression reduce, while their overall mood improved.
Sunshine naturally increases serotonin, a hormone that affects the mood and helps individuals feel calm and focused. Sunlight also helps produce endorphins that also boosts one’s mood and reduces pain.
Put these two together and one can then understand why sometimes runners refer to runner’s high as this feeling of euphoria that makes them feel much better after they run than before.
While some of this relates to your body’s releasing of norepinephrine from the actual effort of exercising, there has to be some connection to the effect of the sun increasing your body’s Vitamin D and having the same positive mood-boosting effect as shared above.
Putting all of this together, the benefits of working outside and getting out of the house from time to time seem pretty clear.
And while no one can predict the weather is going to be agreeable on any given day, the benefits of getting outside for a workout every now and then will definitely offset any negative feelings that a little rain might cause.
So, just grab an umbrella or rain jacket, and get to it.