When the weather’s nice, it seems like the perfect time to workout outside. But is it really better than working out in a gym? For one, you don’t have to have a gym membership to workout outside. It’s also easier to bring pets and children on outdoor workouts–even infants can be brought along. Special jogging strollers are available with large rubber bicycle tires, or if you’re more of a bike person, get a child’s seat that attaches to the back of the bike for a great way to make sure your little one is with you at all times. Gyms can be very intimidating, especially for newcomers.
If you are feeling insecure working out in front of a roomful of people, working out outside can offer privacy. The freedom of outdoor workouts also brings danger. For safety, workout with a friend, or carry a small can of pepper spray. There are many types of personal safety devices that hook onto key chains. These are compact and having them attached to the keychain ensures they’ll always be with you, should you ever need it. Joggers, in particular, have been the target of predation. Wearing headphones deceases awareness, making it easier for criminals or animal predators to sneak up and attack. If you choose to workout outside, go to a public area like a park where other people will be working out too. Avoid overgrown areas with low visibility.
Many cities offer paved greenways or body-weight obstacle courses with different workout stations. One of the newest trends are outdoor gyms where members ride stationary bikes, use treadmills and other equipment in the open air of the great outdoors. Beijing was one of the first to jump on this trend by installing outdoor gyms in the lead-up to the 2010 Olympics. Fresh air and sunshine are good, but only in moderation. Wear a sweat-proof sunscreen intended for sports and always bring fluids for yourself and your children or pets. Heat stoke and dehydration are two dangers of working out in severe heat. Avoid exercising during the hottest parts of the day and watch the weather forecast for ozone and air quality warnings. To make sure you are retaining the necessary vitamins and minerals, purchase a drink with added electrolytes and minerals.
Not only is working out outside totally free, but recent studies have shown that just five minutes outside can boost self-esteem. Researchers from the University of Essex, in the UK, complied data from various studies on outdoor activity and found that working out in a natural setting, especially featuring water, improved mental health, particularly in young people and people with a history of mental-health issues. Next time you don’t really feel like going to the gym, take your workout outside. A hike in a beautiful state park or a run on the beach change-up the workout routine, making it more fun and more spontaneous.
Marie Purvis, “10 Fun Ways to Work out Outside” Seventeen.
Francesca Steele “Enjoy the great outdoors -on a treadmill” TimesOnline.
Rebecca R. Kahlenberg, “Working Outside May Not Be a Picnic” The Washington Post.
Reuters, “Five minutes in the green can boost self-esteem” Yahoo.
WebWire, “Warm Weather Fitness and Eating Tips” WebWire.