Outdoor Exercise Makes you Happier

Many studies prove what we all should know already, that exercising in nature is good for us. A review of studies focusing on outdoor exercise and published in Environmental Science & Technology found that, compared to those exercising indoors, outdoor exercises decreases the risk of mental illness and improves happiness. Exercising in natural areas provides greater energy, improves mood and self-esteem and reduces tension, anger and depression. It is as easy as walking outside, which various studies have shown can improve symptoms of mild depression.

Even better, on sunny days, being outdoors provides the needed dose of vitamin D, essential for calcium absorption and thus strong bones. This is very important for overweight individuals since excess body fat absorbs vitamin D, making it unavailable to the body. Absence of vitamin D affects the leptin hormone, which lets the brain know when it is full and should stop eating. According to the Harvard Medical School’s affiliate, Brigham and Woman’s Hospital, you only need to be in the sun for a weekly total of 30 min.

On cold days, being outside for 30 to 60 minutes daily will help the body adapt to the cold. If the whole winter you are inside in a heated building, of course you will be always cold when outside. Expose your body to the cold, so it can adapt and outdoor exercising will be more tolerable. Besides, if you think about it, being outdoor is healthier as well because you are less susceptible to the germs floating in a confined area.

Whether your outdoor environment is cold or warm, use your imagination to create a fun workout. If there is a trail, walk or jog it and stop along the way to use fallen logs or rocks for push ups, dips, step ups or balance beams. Anytime you hear a bird chirping, see an oak tree or any other clue, stop for jumping jacks or walking lunges. At a park, use benches, stairs and playground equipment for strength-training exercises. Even a fun game like a snow ball war will count as exercise.

For days that you cannot get outside, change the house décor to encourages more fitness. Buy nice baskets for the living room and fill it with resistance bands, dumbbells, a yoga mat, jump rope, a medicine or Pilates ball. Store it somewhere visible and while you watch your favorite show, do biceps curl and shoulder presses.

When I am outside, my senses come to life. In the winter snow, I like seeing all white with some pop of color, hearing my steps into the snow, touching flakes and inhaling invigorating fresh oxygen. In the warm summer, I like seeing the sun reflecting on trees and flowers, hearing the chirping birds and feeling the sun on my bare skin. With so many benefits of being outdoors, lace up your shoes and head outside for a long walk in nature.

About the Author
Aris Akavan, ACE certified Personal Trainer & Lifestyle and Weight Management Coach, is owner of Body Fitness by Aris. Her mission is to assist others in leading a healthier lifestyle by balancing exercise and proper eating habits to achieve the ultimate body & mind wellness. Aris leads by example as she practices what she preaches. She leads an alcohol free and smoke free lifestyle and has worked out while following proper nutrition practices for over 10 years. In the last few years she also started participating in 5k races, adventure runs and triathlons. You can visit Aris at any of her following: