Over the past 30 years, according to Science Daily, a large body of research has continued to associate time spent outside with improved human health.
For the most part we know that interacting with nature can create positive health responses, but what scientists are working on right now, is figuring out what “dosage” amount of time spent outside is needed to elicit a quantifiable improvement.
A group of biologists and public health experts are currently setting out to create a basis for studying time spent outside just as researchers might analyze medicine using a dose-response model.
“With this approach, a precise ‘nature dose’ would be evaluated for its ability to produce a health response,” Science Daily explained. “The authors hope that such [an] inquiry will help research move beyond coarse measures of nature dose ‘to understand how urban nature can be manipulated to enhance human health.’”
The point is, science can’t tell you exactly how much time you should spend outside in order to reap specific health benefits, but what it has shown is that, as part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle, you definitely should be spending at least some of your time outside.
And if you want to take it to whole new level of healthy, well then you can take your workouts outside and reap the health benefits of both activities all at once.
To help get you excited about sharing some quality time with Mother Nature this spring and summer, here are a few reasons you should consider taking some (or all) of your workouts into the great outdoors.
1. You’ll probably have more fun.
“In a 2011 meta-analysis of relevant studies, researchers concluded that compared to indoor workouts, exercising outside causes greater engagement and revitalization, lowers depression and increases a person’s enjoyment of the activity,” says health and fitness expert Mark Sisson, author of The Primal Blueprint and creator of MarksDailyApple.com.
2. It could help you build a healthy habit.
If you have a hard time sticking to a regular workout routine, sharing your sweat sessions with Mother Nature may be just what you need help make the habit stick. “People who exercise outside are also more likely to repeat the exercise at a later date,” Sisson said. “Outdoor workouts don’t feel like work. They’re more fun, and they perpetuate themselves.”
3. You’ll feel more relaxed.
A 2014 study associated outdoor exercise with better stress management. “Going outside is a reset of sorts,” Sisson said. “It quiets the brain and dampens the stress response. This is because our brains are wired to be around trees and dirt and sand and running water and to perceive expansive vistas and breathe fresh air.”
4. You could quite possibly get a better workout.
By reviewing the physiological and psychological outcomes of indoor cycling compared to outdoor cycling, another study from 2014 found that compared to subjects who rode inside, subjects who rode outside exercised at a higher intensity despite similar environmental conditions and perceived exertion
5. It could help improve your self-esteem.
A 2010 study examined body image implications in relation to time spent in nature and found those who spend more time outside—away from mirrors, media and other stimuli that might make you feel self-conscious about your appearance—might help increase confidence by silencing negative thoughts.