The Great Outdoors

It’s no secret that exercise is essential to leading a healthy lifestyle; however, sometimes we forget that there are many different forms of exercise to choose from aside from trapping ourselves in the gym.
As someone who has exercised my whole life, starting intensely in sixth grade when I began competitive gymnastics, I have learned over the years that the best way to exercise is by being outside! Compared to other forms of working out, exercising outside is much more stimulating and better overall for your mental and physical health.

While completing an outdoor workout, you are doing so much more than just getting in some physical activity for the day; you are exposing yourself to fresh air, stimulating and entertaining scenery, and vitamin D. Some of Monmouth’s students share a similar love for exercising outdoors.

Mya Sexton, a junior communication student stated, “I prefer exercising outside because I like being able to feel grounded when I run. I enjoy seeing all of the beautiful views at the beach and being able to take in the fresh air and feel the sun on me. I feel that I overall get a better workout. I tend to have a more productive and calmer day when I am exercising outside.”

Similarly, Samantha Belgio, a junior health studies student explained, “I prefer working out outside because it’s less familiar and mundane. There are many different places I can go to depending on the weather, like the beach or trails. Working out in different environments causes me to be more motivated because I can go wherever I want, whenever I want, without being in a crowded gym full of people. Working out indoors feels repetitive. Working out in the sunlight boosts my energy and improves the quality of my workout which is beneficial to my mental and physical health.”

Rather than working out in a gym, getting out into the real world can create a much more motivating setting, which in turn, can produce a much more productive and effective workout. Additionally, whether you are walking, running, or biking, the natural conditions you face are raising the stakes and naturally intensifying the workout.

A huge plus to being outside is the exposure to vitamin D. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), there are various health benefits to vitamin D including the promotion of calcium absorption in the gut, the enabling of bone mineralization preventing muscle cramps, contractions and spasms, the promotion of bone growth, inflammation reduction, and more!

Additionally, another health benefit of bringing your daily workout outside is the development of better sleep habits. According to myacare.com, Innocensia Kambewe, a medical writer, researcher, and public health specialist, explained in her article, “How Are Outdoor Activities Better For Mind and Body Than The Gym?” that research has found that outdoor exercise completed during the day can regulate the circadian rhythm.

The circadian rhythm refers to the 24-hour cycle our bodies operate on in terms of physical, mental, and behavioral changes. Outdoor exercise has proven to reset your body’s natural clock leading to improved sleep patterns.

In addition to the many physical benefits outdoor exercise offers, there are also many mental health benefits. We’ve all been taught that any form of exercise allows for the release of endorphins, which relieve stress by making you happy; outdoor activities do not fall short in producing these happy chemicals. However, there are also some other benefits that you can’t get when trapped inside a gym.

For example, Kambewe explained that spending time in nature has proven to boost creativity and increase cognitive function. Furthermore, plants and greenery improve mood and help with anxiety regulation.

Feeling stumped at work? Need new ideas for a school project? Brainstorming what gift to get your niece for her birthday? Go for a run outside! Even a walk or hike will relieve stress and get your creativity flowing.

While any workout is going to be beneficial to your mental and physical health, there are so many additional pros to getting up and getting outside. Next time you’re getting ready for a workout, consider the impacts of vitamin D, fresh air, and stimulating scenery. And whenever you’re feeling perplexed or overwhelmed, review the effects of surrounding yourself with nature and the great outdoors!