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Take Your Workout Outdoors This Spring

outdoor exerciseWhen trees start to bloom and the days are longer, it’s time to start exercising outdoors.  Here are a few reasons why we should take advantage of the outdoors and move our workouts outside.

Being outdoors is proven to lower your blood pressure.

Spending time outside is also good for your health and heart.  A recent study estimated that nearly 10% of people with high blood pressure could get their levels under control if they spent at least 30 minutes each week outdoors.  Spending time outside in the fresh air lowers stress and had a positive impact on overall health, reducing stress hormones such as cortisol and norepinephrine.

Nature can boost your immune system.

When you are cooped up with a lot of other people at your office, or even in your own home, it’s a good option to step outside and get some fresh air. Such close quarters can expose you to all sorts of germs and generate added stress. A simple walk outside can give you the space you need and improve your immune system.  Take breaks throughout your work day and make sure you step outside for some fresh air, your daily dose of vitamin D, and some much needed space.

You work harder when you’re outside.

When people are outdoors, whether they’re exercising, going for a leisurely walk, or simply moving, they tend to spend more time doing it. One study found that older people who were active outdoors did at least 30 minutes more moderate-to-vigorous physical every week than individuals who only did exercise indoors. The outdoor activity also made them feel much healthier.

Exercising outdoors can feel like more fun.

When people exercise outside they feel better and enjoy the exercise more. According to Rebecca Lovell, a research fellow at the University of Exeter, “Enjoyment is an important pathway to the mental health impacts of physical activity.” Exercising outdoors is also a great alternative for those who don’t want to go to the gym on a regular basis.

A review of research found that people who exercised outside reported feeling more revitalized, engaged and energized than those who stayed indoors. The researchers also found that people who exercised outside felt less tension, anger and depression.

Your mental health may improve.

Returning to nature has a way of making people feel calm and relaxed.  Exercising outdoors can intensify that effect. A recent study found that people who walked for 90 minutes outside were less likely to ruminate on their problems and had less activity in the brain area linked to depression, compared to people who took similar walks but in urban areas.

You can save money.

Exercising outdoors is not only convenient, but it’s less expensive than a gym membership. It also cuts costs in other areas as well. According to a study in England of “green exercises”—those done outside, including dog walking, running, horseback riding and mountain biking—it was estimated that health benefits can save around $2.7 billion a year.

There are many benefits to being outdoors this spring.  The key is to get outside and start moving.  The more physical activity you integrate into your day, the better you’ll feel.  Integrating just 30 minutes of physical activity, 3 or more days per week, has a direct and positive impact on your health.