What’s your favorite “I can’t go to the gym” excuse? It’s too expensive. It’s out of the way and inconvenient. It’s boring. It’s too crowded.
Those are just a few of my own favorites. I use them all almost every day. But that doesn’t mean I have to skip out on exercise completely. Even in the winter I employ the great outdoors as my own personal gym.
The best part about exercising outside: the scope of what you can do is almost endless. As long as you stay creative and remember to appreciate nature, it’s pretty hard to get bored.
That’s not the only benefit of taking your workout outdoors, though. Keep reading for five more reasons you should exercise outside.
1. Increase Awareness
“I think awareness is big part of being an athlete and I think so many people try to tune it all out,” says expert running coach Eric Orton.
Paying attention to your surroundings as well as connecting with the movements of your body while exercising outside will improve your awareness and as a result, make you a better all-around athlete.
“I love music just as much as running, but I can’t remember the last time I listened to music while running because I want to get out and experience nature,” says Orton. “Throw everything away and just be aware of your surroundings. We can have an adventure in our own minds wherever we run as long as we are aware of what’s going on.”
2. Avoid the Gym
Did you ever think a fitness expert would tell you to skip your trip to the gym? If you dread going to the gym then exercising outside is your perfect excuse not to go. Daily exercise is important but it doesn’t have to take place in such a traditional space.
Go for a run, swim in the pool, follow an equipment-free, bodyweight workout in your backyard; like I said earlier, the possibilities are endless and far more fun than most exercises you could do at a gym.
3. Relaxation Factor
Feeling stressed? More time outside can help you relax. Combine that with the effects of exercise and you’ve got a stress-busting power combo.
“The bench mark for health is the ability to relax,” says Eoin Finn, a renowned yogi with more than 20 years of yoga experience and a “Blissologist” who likes to spend more than 15 hours a day outside.
“Relaxation is best done under a tree. When we are outside somewhere beautiful in nature, we feel small and in this place of feeling small relative to the grandeur of nature, we feel a part of one large interconnected whole. There is so much happiness that lies here. We feel a part of something infinitely vast and beautiful and not apart from it.”
4. No Equipment Needed
Expensive and inconvenient are two great excuses to skip out on the gym. But you can’t use them against exercising outside because it’s free, and if you get creative you don’t need any equipment at all. Although if you do have some dumbbells, resistance bands or other at-home exercise equipment there’s nothing stopping you from putting it to use outside.
For starters, try following this 20-minute, equipment-free Tabata workout .
5. Less Work, More Play
Exercise doesn’t have to feel like work. In fact, it’s kind of a shame that we even refer to it as “working” out. Exercising outside easily increases the fun factor, making fitness feel more like fun and less like labor that you’re forcing yourself to finish because you know you’re “supposed to.” In fact, making fitness fun is one of the keys to creating an exercise habit that you’ll actually stick with.
Related: 6 Ways to Spend More Time Outside