The Benefits of Green Exercise
Balance your workout with outdoor training
A systematic review of studies comparing indoor versus outdoor activity conducted in natural environment suggests that outdoor activity which is conducted in a natural or green environment causes greater feelings of revitalisation and positive engagement. All types of green exercise activities also improve self-esteem and negative mood subscales, such as tension, anger and depression. Interestingly, the first five minutes of green exercise appears to have the biggest impact on mood and self-esteem, suggesting an immediate psychological health benefit. Participating in green exercise activities also affects physiological parameters which differ to the changes observed in matched activity in an urban environment. There are, however, only a handful of studies that have been conducted to investigate physiological health markers. Physiological outcomes have included heart rate, blood pressure and autonomic control (using heart rate variability) and endocrine markers including noradrenaline, adrenaline and cortisol (an objective measure of stress).
Learn about the many benefits associated with outdoor activity and try our warm-up exercises—all guaranteed to have a positive impact on your overall well-being. They’ll leave you feeling more alive!
Now that summer is here, there’s no better way to improve your fitness than to exercise in the great outdoors. Whether you’re trail running, hiking, kayaking, or mountain biking, just getting outside and interacting with nature will leave you feeling refreshed, re-energized, and focused.
HERE ARE THE FIVE MOST PROFOUND BENEFITS OF OUTDOOR EXERCISE :
YOU’LL BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
Take the opportunity to go outside to train. Research shows that the percentage of green space in one’s environment has a positive association with health.
Being in nature is a great way to give your immune system a boost. Your body behaves differently when you’re in nature, and acts as a natural stimulus for your body to protect itself from disease. Green exercise is used to describe the additional effects of exercise outdoors over and above the physical activity act itself.
Research tells us the impact that fresh air, grass, trees and the colours of the natural environment have on mental health and physical well-being.
Other research highlights that an average of 30 minutes spent in nature leads to increased physical activity and lower prevalence of high blood pressure and depression.
YOU’LL GET A BURST OF VITAMIN D
Yes, going for some exercise in the sun is an excellent way to get some Vitamin D.
It’s one reason why people who seem to spend so much time outdoors appear to be so healthy. Every time the sun is shining and hitting exposed skin on your body, it’s triggering your body to produce more Vitamin D. Bear in mind that if you live north of San Francisco, California, or south of Melbourne, Australia, then you will not get adequate Vitamin D exposure during winter.
Vitamin D deficiency is increasingly common, especially in young children, the elderly, and people who live in the northern hemisphere.
Deficiency can lead to brittle bones, osteoporosis, and the bone disorder called rickets. Deficiency has also been linked to an increased risk of autoimmune diseases, increased cancer risk, metabolic syndrome, heart disease and depression.
YOU’LL BURN MORE CALORIES
Performing the same exercise outdoors is better for you than doing the same activity indoors. That may sound counter-intuitive – how is that possible? – until you consider that working out in a climate-controlled environment does not supply the same stress to your body as working out in an environment that has high (or cold) temperatures and changing terrain which affects gait .
Research from the University of Exeter has found that road runners burn more calories when running at the same speed than treadmill runners, mainly because of the wind resistance they encounter.
YOU’LL RELEASE MORE FEEL-GOOD HORMONES
Want to get a big smile on your face? Get some exercise outdoors. There’s a scientific reason why people feel so energised and full of enthusiasm after exercising outdoors – your body is releasing feel-good hormones like dopamine.
A study at the University of Queensland, Australia, found that those who exercised outdoors on a regular basis had higher levels of serotonin, a hormone that regulates mood, than those who workout mainly indoors. They also had higher levels of endorphins, the post-exercise rush that occurs after exercise when exercising outside, especially in green environments.
YOU’LL WORK OUT LONGER AND HARDER
Working out indoors can lead to boredom and fatigue. Just think of running on a treadmill staring at the same point on the wall for miles at a time. By contrast, when you decide to exercise outdoors, you are seeing new people, new scenery and generally enjoying your time more. That means you are “nudged” to work out longer.
One research study asked people to go for on two walks – one indoor, one outdoors – and then compared the responses. Guess which walk, on average, lasted longer? During self-paced walking outdoors, individuals walk faster and work harder, but report lower perceived exertion compared to indoors treadmill-based walking.
Research in older adults finds that you are more likely to do more physical activity outdoors than indoors because the environment is more stimulating and leads to more enjoyment . You feel more energetic and enthusiastic, so you work out longer and harder, with a decrease in levels of tension or anger.