How Outdoor Exercise Benefits Your Mind and Body

Staying inside for long periods of time can have a severe negative impact on your mental and physical health, especially during times like these and quarantine. Outdoor exercise can be a great way to boost your mood and improve your overall health. With restrictions and social distancing, now is the perfect time to be active and get outside.

Photograph of a man running at sunrise in a beautiful park

Mental Health Benefits of Outdoor Exercise

Any time of exercise causes the body to release endorphins, which can reduce stress and elevate your mood. Scientists have found that exercising outdoors can have even more mental health benefits than exercising indoors. Why is this you might ask? Here’s a few reasons why exercising in fresh air is so beneficial to your body and mind. 

  1. Elevates Your Mood and Reduces Stress 

The endorphins your body releases when you exercise can naturally relieve feelings of anxiety and depression. Exercise also helps to reduce the levels of cortisol and adrenaline in the body. These two chemicals in high can cause stress in high doses. So simply by exercising and reducing these, you’ll be able to reduce any stress you are feeling. 

Young woman doing yoga in a park on a sunny spring day

  1. Increases Vitamin D 

Studies have shown that people’s brains have higher levels of serotonin on bright and sunny days. Serotonin is the body’s natural mood stabilizer. Sunlight also increases your vitamin D intake. Vitamin D has proven to be an effective way of enhancing your mood. So getting some sunlight and fresh air will have you feeling good in no time. 

Young woman hiking up a mountain and looking at a beautiful view of a lake in the spring.

  1. Freedom from Technology 

Exercising outside also provides a much needed break from technology. It gives you a chance to escape the screens you see all day at home, work or in the gym. This makes it easier to clear your mind and focus on yourself. 

Young man running down a beautiful white snowy path in the winter

Physical Health Benefits from Outdoor Exercise 

While all exercise is good for your body’s physical health, exercising outdoors can be even more beneficial. Here are some of the ways that getting outside can be advantageous. 

  1. Challenges Your Body

When you are active outdoors, you are putting your body in the element. There is no climate-controlled air conditioning outside. Hot and cold temperatures force your body to work hard and adapt. Different terrain can also help to improve your workout. Inclines and obstacles can add some difficulty to your workout. All this added difficulty could have you burning more calories than you would doing the same exercise indoors. 

Young woman rock climbing in Arizona on a sunny spring day.
  1. Workout Longer

The changing of scenery and the elevated mood you get with working out outside can have you working out for longer than you even realize. How many times do you go to the gym and stare at the clock or watch the countdown timer on the treadmill? The outdoors give you the freedom to be present and connect with nature. By enjoying the fresh air and your workout, you might be more inclined to take a longer walk or climb a little higher, which means you’re working harder. 

Young woman doing yoga in central park, new york.
  1. Strengthens Your Immune System 

Being in nature is an amazing way to give your immune system a boost. Your body behaves differently when you’re outside because your body wants to protect you from diseases. Keep that body strong and healthy and head out into nature. 

A gorgeous view of a man kayaking a lake in between snowy mountains on a sunny winter day.

Examples of Exercises that Can Elevate Your Mood  

One of the best things about exercising outdoors is that it is free! You don’t need to buy a membership or pay any fees for going outside and being active. Check out these ideas to get your body moving outside, no matter what the weather! 

  1. Warm Weather Activities
  • Running or Walking
  • Hiking
  • Swimming
  • Kayaking or Canoeing 
  • Biking
  • Paddle Boarding
  • Bodyweight Exercises 
  • Rock Climbing 

Young blonde woman paddle boarding in Miami, Florida on a beautiful sunny day in the summer.

  1. Cold Weather Activities 
  • Running or Walking
  • Hiking (you may need some snowshoes)
  • Downhill or Cross Country Skiing
  • Snowboarding
  • Ice Skating 
  • Biking (keep an eye out for ice!)
Group of friends skiing down a mountain on a sunny day in Park City, Utah in the winter.

What is your favorite way to get outside and connect with nature? Let us know in the comments we would love to hear what you do!  

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Written by:

Holly Reznik

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