Moving your workout inside, with climate-controlled predictability and even the chance of watching TV, can be an attractive prospect. And it has it’s place. During especially hot days or inclement weather, having the option to run or cycle inside will keep you moving without sending you outside in the rain. Also, if you suffer from an injury or are following an extremely structured program, having access to some quality equipment will give you more control over your workouts.
But exercising outside offers it’s own unique list of benefits as well. In what special ways can you profit from getting outside?
Why You Should Get Outside
The amount of evidence encouraging you to get out the door for your run is ever-growing and touches on a wide variety of factors.
Of primary interest is the fact that exercising outside tends to be more difficult, regardless whether your running or cycling. Changes in the terrain, even very subtle shifts in incline, that you experience while exercising outdoors can provide an added challenge and work different muscle groups. For example, people who run on the road will likely encounter downhill slopes which you wouldn’t be able to run on a treadmill.
Even wind resistance will add a new element to your workout. Even though you may not be fully aware of it, the wind can provide an extra force for you to work against and several studies have found that runners and cyclists burn more calories while outside than indoors.
Of course, many of the benefits of outdoor exercise come in the form of more personal, psychological effects. A review of 11 studies published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology found that when exercise was performed outside, in what they called “natural environments,” people enjoyed their experience more. While this may seem like a somewhat predictable and obvious conclusion it has a powerful significance. Because they subjects found their workout more enjoyable, they felt more energetic afterwards and reported a greater release of stress and anxiety. The subjects who exercised outdoors were also more willing to do it again then those who were inside for their workout.
Using the Information
So does this mean that you should get rid of your gym membership, scrap your treadmill and run outside with no regard for the weather? No, of course not.
As discussed at the outset, exercising indoors gives you greater control over your workout, regardless of what the weather is like. Very hot or humid days can put you at a greater risk for dehydration while cold weather can limit your performance. There is also the chance of injury when the roads are wet with snow or rain.
Consider as well that you may not want to go out for a run after work when it’s dark. Instead of skipping your workout altogether, access to a treadmill or other equipment will keep you on track.
Ultimately, it’s best to leave your options open. Use an outdoor run on a beautiful as a treat to supplement your regular routine but have a controlled, indoor environment ready to use.
Have you enjoyed the added perks of exercising outside? Please share your thoughts in the comments.