The benefits of exercise on the body and mind are clear. Regular exercise reduces the risk of chronic diseases such are heart disease, helps to reduce stress levels, improves your mood, enhances sleep, and much much more! And yet many people don’t do it regularly, or at all…. but that’s a subject for a different time.

Guidelines from the NHS suggest at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous activity, such as HIIT training. These guidelines are for people aged 19-64 without any pre-existing health conditions. If you do have any pre-existing conditions always seek the advice of your GP before engaging in exercise. If people exercise regularly the world would be healthier place and there would certainly be less impact on our health systems as a result.

One of the biggest excuses people make is that they ‘don’t have the time’ or ‘can’t get to the gym’. It all boils down to how important it is to us and do we make part of who we are? If you don’t have access to the gym, or don’t like the gym then the good news is that stepping outside opens up all sorts of possibilities for exercise.

Here we will look at why exercising outdoors is great for your body and mind.

The Perks

Outdoor workouts can be designed to take advantage of the environment in which you live, or they could simply be going for a walk or run around the area in which you live. It doesn’t need to be a typical workout. Anything that gets you working up a sweat counts. Cutting the grass for example is considered a moderate activity. I would advise getting yourself a health tracker watch if you don’t already have one, it’s a great tool for monitoring your activity levels and integrates directly into the FLOW Client Hub.

However you choose to exercise outdoors, there a whole host of benefits:

No cost – There are no membership fees required to exercise outdoors and there is so much variety if you can use your imagination. You can run almost anywhere and use objects around you as equipment.

Clean air – Ok, so I know this isn’t the case everywhere but research has shown that even in big cities, the air is cleaner outside then inside. Have you ever stepped outside and taken a deep breath of fresh air? It feels amazing.

A dose of Vitamin D – Now I’m from Scotland so we have to chase the gaps in the clouds, but if you can catch that sun it gives you much needed Vitamin D. Many people have insufficient levels of this essential vitamin in their bodies. Getting the right amount of this is healthy for you body and boosts your mood.

Exercise your mindExercising outside lifts our spirits and time passes faster than being inside working out. Anyone who has tried running for an hour on a treadmill with tell you that. Taking in your surroundings as you’re outside is great for your mind. Several studies have shown that exercising outside benefits our mental wellbeing more than exercising indoors.

FreedomWorking out in a gym is great. Don’t get me wrong, there is definitely a place for it but you are more limited with what you can do. Taking your exercise outdoors gives you more freedom. Running, cycling, swimming, outdoor sports are just to name a few. It also gives you the freedom to do activities with friends and family together.

woman tying shoe laces. Closeup of female sport

Getting Started

If you are new to exercise or have been inactive for a while then ease yourself back into it, and if you have any concerns about your health always discuss it with your GP prior to starting.

One of the best things you can do and the number one thing I recommend to anyone is to have a goal in mind of why you want to start. Ease yourself into it and work progressively towards your goal. Below are a few things to bear in mind when choosing to exercise outdoors:

Have the correct clothing and equipment – Billy Connelly once said ‘’In Scotland, there is no such thing as bad weather – only the wrong clothes’’. This is particularly true when taking part in outdoor activities. Make sure you have the right clothing, footwear, and any other equipment you may need. If you’re hiking, then always be prepared for a turn in the weather. If you are going for a run make sure you have a good pair of running shoes to protect your joints.

Avoid extreme weather – Be mindful of the weather conditions and avoid working out in extreme heat or cold. If you’re in a hot environment it’s better to go outdoors early morning or after sunset. If you are exposed to the sun make sure you have sun screen on hand.

Drink plenty of water – Drinking a glass of water 30 minutes before exercise should give you enough hydration for a 30-minute workout. If you are going to be outside for longer it’s always a good idea to have water with you to stay hydrated. We lose water by sweating and breathing so bear this in mind. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty before replenishing.

Make it part of your lifestyle – Consistency is the key. The more regular you do something the more it becomes part of your life. Think about how you can implement more outdoor exercise into your life. Can you walk somewhere instead of driving? What areas do you have close to home that you can take advantage of? If you are unsure of what you can do then get some help and advice from someone that does. Bodyweight workouts are great and surprisingly challenging if you know what to do.

Lastly take time to practice mindfulness. When you are outside, engage with your environment. Listen to the sounds, take time to appreciate the sights around you. This is great for your mental wellbeing. As always if you do need any advice specific to you then feel free to get in touch.

Coach Andrew.