Outdoor exercise and mindfulness

Posted in: Wellbeing Last updated: 28 Aug 2015
Image of family walking a dog

We all know that exercise is great for our bodies - but when it does wonders for your outlook too, the activity becomes something far more beneficial. This is why outdoor exercise has become more popular than ever before. Along with getting a good work out, exercisers are able to get some fresh air and some time to reconnect with the natural world - something that's important, but often overlooked when our days are spent working away in the office.

Not only is this true for adults, but the kids in our lives can benefit from outdoor exercise too - something that Rachael Hill, one of our personal grant recipients - really understands. With all that in mind, summer is the perfect time to embrace exercising in the outdoors. Heading out in the morning means you miss the heat of the day, and for those that prefer exercising after work, you'll benefit from lighter, milder evenings. But, if you still need convincing of the benefits to exercising outside, read on…

Outdoor exercise works different muscles

While working out in a gym, it's easy to get stuck in the same routine. This means that the same muscles are being repeatedly worked. When outside, your environment changes - from the terrain you're walking on to the gradient of it too. Compare running on a treadmill to jogging uphill on rocky ground - which one do you think is going to give you the better work out, and work the front and back of those legs?

Some activities just make more sense outside

Running, cycling, rowing - they are all activities that can make the most of being outside, and vitally, get you from A to B! It might be a bit much to suggest that you row to work, but cycling and jogging to the office not only ensures you're getting exercise, but has practical benefits too!
Even if it's not suitable for work, some weekend errands are easily done on foot instead of the car - ditch that time on a Saturday morning at the gym, and invest your time in the outdoors, getting healthy and enjoying fresh air.

Your focus changes

While exercising outside, you'll find that your mind has to stay focused on you and your surroundings. This keeps you from tripping over, and to assess where you're going to go next. Essentially, while your body is exercising, your mind is allowed to focus on just that - other worries, thoughts and considerations are put to one side, and you're given a rare moment to focus on your body and how it's responding to the exercise.

It can be a bit of a novelty

Though enthusiasm for the outdoors can wane when the rain starts pouring down, you'll find some classes and groups in your local area that are simply made more fun by taking place in a park. Outdoor yoga or pilates are great ways of connected stretching movements with the peace of the outdoors, or boot camp-style circuit classes are made all the more challenging and interesting when you've got earth, air and water to contend with too.

Fancy giving your mind and body something a little, well, different to do? Head outdoors, exercise in nature, and feel all the better for it.

“The Benefits of Exercising Outdoors” (Feb 21 2013). Retrieved from: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/21/the-benefits-of-exercising-outdoors/?_r=0
“Benefits of Outdoor Exercise Confirmed” (Feb 5 2011). Retrieved from: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110204130607.htm
The Benefits of Outdoor Exercise: Retrieved from: http://www.everydayhealth.com/fitness/outdoor-exercise-benefits.aspx

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