Blow off the dark, dreary gym and step into the sunlight. Here are 7 of the best reasons why you should take your workout outside and ditch the gym!
You’ll Go for Longer
Leave the magazines at home and head out for an exploratory run through your neighborhood. You’ll be surprised how much faster time travels when you aren’t in the gym. To top it off, a grueling workout may not seem so, grueling. Heck, you might even double your workout to 60 minutes without even knowing it.
You’ll Blast More Calories
It’s easy to get in a fitness rut when your body knows exactly what to expect from your gym machines like the treadmill, elliptical, and stationary bike. The varied terrain of a park might be just what your body need to challenge itself to move in varied, more complex ways. Factor in wind (Mama Nature’s form of resistance training), temps (the hotter the weather, the harder your body has to work to cool down), and other external variables, you can end up torching 5 to 7 percent more calories just by trading the treadmill for trails.
You’ll Save Money
Gym memberships aren’t cheap. They can drain your bank account which can feel like a real waste if you’re more of a no-show than gym rat. The smaller investment in a home gym can even be a waste of money for some. Besides cutting your fitness bills, running out your front door can save you cash on gas.
You’ll Be Happier
Playing outside is like organic Prozac. Exercising outside also creates greater feelings of revitalization, energy, and positive thinking than does working out indoors, according to a report published in Environmental Science and Technology. What’s more, after an 30-minute walk in the park, 71 percent of people feel less stressed, while 72 percent of people who take their walks indoors actually feel more stressed.
You’ll Fight Germs
A bunch of studies show that gyms are breeding grounds for germs and bacteria. MRSA is the most dangerous super bug you can catch at your fitness facility—it’s resistant to most antibiotics and can cause fever, rash, wounds, and chest pain. Other less harmful infections include athlete’s foot, boils, herpes simplex, and ringworm, according to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association. You can avoid these hazards by washing your hands often, changing your socks daily, using foot powder, wiping down equipment before and after use and wearing flip flops in the shower. Or you can simply take your training to the streets. Indoor air is two to five time more polluted than outdoor air, according to a study from the Environmental Protection Agency. If you’ve ever walked into a stinky gym, you know exactly what’s up.
You’ll Think More Clearly
Breaking a sweat outside may make you smarter. “Humans were hunter-gatherers and farmers for some 300,000 generations; have been industrialized for only six to eight, so we are outdoor animals living largely inside,” says Jo Barton, Ph.D., the lead author of a 2011 study that analyzed the mental health of 53 people who were involved in indoor or outdoor activities for six weeks. “Closeness to nature increases our well-being—it has an immunizing effect by protecting us from future stresses and helping us concentrate and think more clearly,” she says.
You’ll Work Out Whenever You Want
The outdoors is always ready to go. No class schedules, no waiting in line for the elliptical machine, and no need to dig out your exercise bands from the closet. You can fit fitness in whenever you have a chance. Even a 20-minute intense workout in the great outdoors will do the trick: A single high-intensity workout is three times more effective at burning fat than endurance training.