Studies show that natural sunlight is good for both the mind and the body. The creation of vitamin D from the sun’s ultraviolet light helps in the production of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that aids in regulating mood, sleep, appetite and memory. A problem with serotonin levels can lead to depression. Just think about how you feel when you are cooped up in the house instead of basking in the sun playing around. So then that leads me to the question of the day. If the gym is a stress reliever for many of us then what would be the impact if we took that gym outdoors? Would it double, triple or quadruple our already present feel good response to exercise? Honestly, I am sure that some truly scientific genius could answer this question for us. However, I just want to take a moment to discuss 5 amazing reasons to take your workout outdoors.
1. Physiological Response to Sunlight – We have already discussed our body’s circadian rhythm and response to spending time in the sunlight. An increase in Vitamin D leads to an increase in the production of serotonin. This response decreases melatonin production and leaves us feeling awake and refreshed.
2. Outdoor workouts stimulate our creative side – When we choose to take our workout outdoors it requires us to get a little creative. Whether we are box jumping on tables, doing pull-ups from a tree or doing dips on parallel bars in a playground we are forced to exercise our brain. Studies have shown that brain games and brain teasers have helped extend the life of those with Alzheimer’s and additionally help in memory retention. You may not have Alzheimer’s but getting a little non stress related Brain exercise cannot hurt.
3. Setting a good example for others – The people that we encounter in the gym every day are the same people that are already motivated to exercise. By taking out workout outdoors we have the opportunity to pique the interest of others. When someone sees you outdoors smiling laughing and just having fun they get excited about exercise. It is way more motivating to them then seeing you back squat weight they cannot even imagine lifting.
4. Increased likelihood of repeating the workout – One study from Science Daily showed that exercising outdoors increased the likelihood that the participants would repeat the exercise at a later date. They also revealed decreases in tension, anger, depression and confusion. There are no machines just you and the environment. You are free to do what you want. Exercising outdoors encourages natural everyday functional movements. There are no machines to figure out or get frustrated with.
5. It’s mad fun – Every time I have taken my workouts out into the environment I have had a great time. From the workouts on the beach of Hawaii lifting a huge rock, to the park by my house with my children, and on to the casual bike ride up a near mountainside they have all ended in a smile. Having fun in my opinion is the most critical component of any exercise routine. Too many of us try to choose a routine that works for someone else and duplicate it. We don’t see the same results because we don’t take the same attitude to each and every movement. God created this magnificent playground for all of us too enjoy and I think it is important we do so.
Let’s make a commitment to try our next workout that we have freedom with and utilize the
environment. If you have never tried this it can be a great experience. Take the family with you and make it a game. Like the TV show the Amazing Race, you can challenge the family to create a fitness related outdoor challenge including thinking challenges and exercise. This will be a great way to lead by example and build that solid relationship within the family at the same time.
Fitmark Ambassador 2013