Spring is here, and that means it’s time to get outside and move! It may not be warm enough to hit the outdoor pool yet, but adding some open-air training to your routine, whether it’s running, riding your bike or doing yoga in the park, can benefit both your mind and your body.
Although not all the mechanisms are well understood, multiple studies have shown a clear link between mental and physical well-being and outdoor exercise.
Mental and physical benefits
Open-air training is good for your mental health. Outdoor exercise, especially in a green space or near water, can improve your mood and self-esteem, and being close to nature has a calming, stress-reducing effect. Exposure to sunlight also lifts your mood while giving you a dose of vitamin D.
Some people find they can work out harder outdoors, so they get a greater physical as well as mental benefit from training. Changing scenery can help keep you interested and willing to go further (you’re not just repeating the same motion in the same place, or watching the clock), while breathing fresh air gives you a greater sense of energy and vitality. The varied terrain and wind resistance you encounter while running or riding on the road or track rather than in the gym also give you more stimuli to respond to and help improve balance and coordination as well as allowing you to develop better instincts about pacing your effort.
Many people who join a gym don’t stick with it very long, but research has shown that those who exercise outdoors are more consistent in their training. Something about the great outdoors seems to motivate people to keep going back for more. Plus, it’s free!
Tips for a successful outdoor workout
Before you head out, be sure to hydrate. Water is often the best thing to drink before and during a workout; unless you do a longer training session or sweat a great deal, you likely don’t need sugar and electrolytes until afterward, if at all.
Wear sunscreen and sunglasses. The sun may not be too intense yet, but get in the habit of protecting yourself as you start spending more time outdoors.
Make sure you have the right clothing for your workout. Take advantage of today’s breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics to help you stay dry and comfortable while you train. Arena, for example, offers a range of technical sports apparel beyond swimwear, from sports bras, tops and jackets to tights, shorts and socks. Add a pop of colour to put the winter doldrums behind you once and for all.
Exercise of any kind is good, of course, but outdoor exercise offers particular benefits. So if the sun is tempting you away from the gym, give in! Open-air training is a great way to lift your mood, and that boost can help make your workout even more effective.
What’s your favourite thing about open-air training? Do you find that it’s easier to get motivated to train outside, or do you prefer the predictability of an indoor workout in the gym?