Why You Should Exercise Outside

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Why You Should Exercise Outside

Written by Madison Lawson

Have you ever wondered how much of a difference there is between exercising outdoors and indoors? After all, either way is good for your health, getting your heart rate up, and is good for your overall well-being. 

But according to Scientific Reports from Nature.com, there is actually a difference between nature exercises and gym exercises.

The study included almost 20,000 participants and self-reports of health and well-being. Using different lengths of recreational time outside and many different forms of outdoor exercise, the study came to the conclusion that “Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and well-being.”

These 120 minutes of outdoor exercising enhanced the well-being of the participants by 23% and health by 59% versus other participants who spent less or no time outside. While other factors were included, such as gender, age, socio-economic status, none effected the average response.

Our relationship with nature has a huge impact on our overall well-being. The way we interact with nature and how much time we spend outside, both exercising and just enjoying all it has to offer, will reflect in our health status.

Outside magazine has even referred to this as the “Nature Cure” and called it a free, miracle drug.

Who would pass up such an easy and free cure to health issues and struggles with your well-being?

Nature.Com and Outside magazine are not the only media that are covering this topic. In the last decade, media, scientists, and even doctors have covered and studied how nature can help your health more and more. Doctors are writing “Nature Prescriptions” and suggesting their patients go outside as their form of therapy and treatment for countless health problems, including obesity, mental health issues, and chronic illnesses.

A new study published in the International Journal of Environmental Health Research adds to the evidence and shows just how little time it takes to get the benefits of being outside.

Spending just 20 minutes in a park — even if you don’t exercise while you’re there — is enough to improve well-being, according to the research.

Florence Williams wrote in her book, The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative, “We all need nearby nature: we benefit cognitively and psychologically from having trees, bodies of water, and green spaces just to look at; we should be smarter about landscaping our schools, hospitals, workplaces and neighborhoods so everyone gains. We need quick incursions to natural areas that engage our senses. Everyone needs access to clean, quiet and safe natural refuges in a city.”

I, for one fully and completely agree with her.

Going for a short run at your nearby park. Taking a long walk through the trees. Sitting by a calm lake. Taking a nap in a hammock. Hiking through trails near your home. Getting a team together and playing a sport for fun, like tennis or soccer. Playing fetch with your dog in your backyard.

While just being outside without intentionally exercising can be exceptionally good for your health, taking your exercises outdoors is even a further step into prioritizing your health and well-being.

Take your run or bike ride or even yoga outdoors. Allow the green, blue, fresh air, and peace benefit your health just like the actual physical activity.

Whatever it takes, because being outside is such an important and under-utilized way to take care of yourself.

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