People exercising outside

Enjoy the benefits of walking and exercising outdoors

Now that the weather is getting warmer, it’s the perfect opportunity to freshen up your usual workout while getting a little fresh air. Breezy days and brighter evenings allow you to fit in a good workout while enjoying the great outdoors. But this is just the beginning of the many reasons to exercise outdoors. There are several surprising benefits of outdoor exercise that make it much more appealing than staying stuck in a stuffy gym. Walking outside benefits your body as much as it helps your mind and your mood. Once you discover the benefits of moving to outdoor workouts, you’ll quickly warm up to the idea of exercising outdoors.

A brighter mood

Outdoor workouts are as good for your mind as they are for your body. That’s because outdoor exercise benefits your mood in a number of ways, from boosting your self-esteem to relieving anger, easing tension, and reducing depression. The mood-boosting benefits of exercise outside come from exposure to sunlight, which increases your body’s production of vitamin D. This valuable vitamin tells your brain to release the “feel good” chemical called serotonin to naturally improve your mood. And you don’t have to spend hours running a marathon to get these mood-improving benefits because all it takes is 15 minutes of walking around the block on a sunny day to lighten and brighten your mood.

Fee-free fitness

Spending time exercising outdoors can save you the membership fees of the gym. If you’re watching your pennies as much as your waistline, this is one of the main reasons to exercise outdoors. You can feel free to enjoy outdoor workouts any time and any place by simply walking out your door. There’s no contract to sign, no need to wait for popular machines, and the outdoors is always open—even on holidays! And since you’ll no longer need to drive to the gym, you’ll also be saving money on gas while helping to save the environment.

A longer and stronger workout

One of the little-known benefits of exercise outside is that you’ll work in a longer workout. When you exercise outdoors, the landscape is constantly changing, whether on your biking path or along your hiking trail. The only way to keep up the pace is by quickly adapting to your surroundings, which makes you use different muscles all along the way. As a result, you work harder than you typically would by pedaling aimlessly on a gym bike or walking to nowhere on the treadmill. And the beauty of nature serves as the ideal distraction from the hard work of working out, so you end up exercising longer, going farther, and enjoying it more than if you were staring at a timer on a machine.

Burns more calories

Nature works wonders for weight loss. Exercising outside allows you to burn more calories than you would with an indoor workout. Outdoor exercise benefits your weight because you’re facing the resistance of wind and constant changes in terrain. This makes your workouts much more challenging, so you naturally burn more calories. Even though your workout may be more strenuous, you probably won’t even mind because you’ll be completely caught up in the natural beauty around you. By exercising outdoors, workouts become much more of a pleasure than a pain.

Puts insomnia to bed

If you’re tired of sleepless nights, outdoor exercise can put an end to your tossing and turning. A good night’s sleep is just a good outdoor workout away, because exposure to sunlight helps regulate your body’s internal clock. It’s this internal clock that tells your brain when it’s time to fall asleep at night and when to wake up in the morning. Too much exposure to artificial light at night throws your internal clock out of whack, which leaves you wide awake all night and exhausted during the day. But outdoor workouts help reset your body’s clock to let you get the rest you’ve dreamed of getting.

So how much exercise do you need to stay healthy? While you should speak to your SignatureMD-affiliated doctor before beginning any exercise, experts recommend fitting in at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity over the course of a week. That may seem like a serious time commitment, but the joys of exercising outdoors make staying fit a lot of fun! And now that the weather is getting warmer, it’s only natural to start enjoying the many benefits of exercise outside.