For a lot of/most people...
"Exercise" means going to the gym.
It doesn't have to be that way of course...
In fact commercial gyms are a relatively new concept.
It's perfectly possible to achieve comparable results by training outdoors.
Here's why you may want to consider the switch...
A 1-hour workout at the gym can easily turn into a 4-hour long commitment. Apart from the pre-workout routine; eating, hydrating, warming-up etc… you will need to travel to the gym (and back). This could include a long walk/drive (potentially sitting in rush hour traffic), finding a parking space, queuing to get in etc.
This isn’t always convenient.
Getting outside into the garden or a local green space couldn’t be any easier…
Save time, save stress and avoid the lengthy pre and post-workout routines that naturally come with gym based workouts.
2. Get Your Vitamin D
Between April and September you should theoretically be able to get all of the Vitamin D you need from the sun (as opposed to food & supplements).
But this of course relies on actually being outside.
SO if you’re exercising for 1 hour plus anyway, why not kill two birds with one stone?
Just don’t forget to be sensible in high temperatures… keep hydrated and wear sunscreen!
Spending time outdoors is associated with a wide range of health benefits…
Including many psychological benefits.
You can positively improve your mood simply by spending more time outside.
Especially in “green” environments (which is where you’re likely to be exercising anyway)…
open green spaces
by the sea
The positive benefits of spending time in these spaces (and getting away from the office, home or even the gym), include;
reduced “depressive symptoms”
perceived boost in energy levels and alertness
4. Avoiding The Gym’s Resident “Expert”
Closely related to mood…
Every gym has (at least) one…
The long-term regular who has appointed himself as the person who simply must provide his opinions on everybody else’s training.
On a serious note… many people will avoid the gym (or at least) modify what they are doing there, due to feeling self-conscious.
If this is genuinely preventing you from exercising as much as you would ideally like to, consider the relative privacy of training alone outdoors.
When you have built up your fitness (and confidence) you may feel more comfortable returning to the public gym environment.
5. Your Circadian Rhythm
Otherwise known as your body clock…
The internal clock that influences the rhythm of pretty much every process in the body, over a 24 hour period.
Including of course, the sleep-wake cycle.
The time that your body is ‘ready’ to fall asleep and wake up is largely influenced by your exposure to daylight.
Ideally, after waking up at your usual time, you should be exposing yourself to natural light.
Not only does this reinforce your wake up time and help to energise you in the morning, it also helps to programme your body to be ready to sleep at the appropriate time that evening.
If you routinely struggle to fall asleep at night, it’s possible that you are not seeing enough daylight throughout the day. Your body clock is potentially confused by the lack of a clear day vs night routine. This includes dimly lit offices (lights are not the same as daylight), followed by too much exposure to unnatural blue light (TV’s, phones etc), before bed.
By exercising outside, especially in the morning, you may help to strengthen the natural rhythm of your body clock, resulting in better sleep.
The same gym routine, the same classes, the same machines…
Training plateaus are a natural part of the workout programme process.
Even at the best of times, good programming is necessary to overcome these.
But for the majority of people, training without a Personal Trainer on hand, it is likely that they will find a comfortable routine/pattern, and simply repeat it.
By getting outdoors, you will be forced to be more creative...
Getting you outside of that comfort zone and exposing your body to a variety of different challenges.
So especially if you have already found yourself in that repetitive cycle, this would be a simple way of mixing things up.
And on that subject…
7. Adapting To Natural Environments
Training indoors can be very sanitised…
Fixed resistance machines follow one single range of motion, removing the need for your body to self-stabilise.
Treadmills are built with a comfortably cushioned, flat floor and only move you forward in a perfect straight line.
Exercise bikes don’t wobble...
Training outdoors forces your body to adapt to natural movements and surfaces.
This means stronger, healthier joints, improved proprioception and a more ‘mindful’ workout.
8. You Have To Be More Creative
Training outdoors makes you realise how many different uses there are for park benches...
A hill becomes the best piece of cardio equipment you could possibly ask for...
You'll learn to enjoy training in all weather...
At the very least, the variety keeps your sessions feeling fresh.
Going to the gym should do you more good than harm
Gyms are notoriously unhygienic.
You’re sharing a space, and equipment with hundreds/thousands of other people…
Who may, or may not, be maintaining their cleanliness.
Most of the people there are sweating on the equipment.
Unwashed hands will be touching almost every surface.
You’ll use mats for floor exercises that other people have been walking on.
The list goes on.
Gyms are not clean.
Either tread carefully…
Or get outside and avoid altogether.