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5 Benefits of Taking Your Workout Outside

Exercise has changed a lot in the last few years. Traditionally people gathered inside large, warehouse-type buildings filled with machines to sweat and steam. Over the last few years, that has changed. The pandemic closed gyms and drove people outside, where they experienced a whole new world of exercise options.

Fit father does back squats on outdoor home gym with daughter swinging nearby

Being forced to exercise outside, often with limited equipment, opened many eyes to the fact that our traditional ways of exercise limit us. The fitness world realized they no longer needed to be bound by how things had always been done. As a result, people found all types of methods to burn calories, challenge muscles, and get healthy.

Driveways, backyards, and local parks all became makeshift gyms. Buckets, bottles, tree limbs, and broomsticks all became exercise equipment. Families and friends came together to make fitness enjoyable.

Our eyes have been opened, and we cannot return to the old way of doing things. The secret is out. Fitness can be fun. And one of the best ways to make it fun is to take it outside. Here are five ways that exercising outside the four walls of a traditional gym can be good for you.

1) Outdoor exercise is functional

Exercising outdoors has reminded the fitness world of the importance of functional training. In case you are unfamiliar with the term, functional training means exercises that mirror daily life activities and movements that help you perform tasks in your everyday life easier.

Outdoor exercise is often movement based, and the extra space allows for a wide range of functional options.

2) Outdoor exercise is fun

Exercising outside opens up a world of options for family and group-based workouts. While we used to get stuck using the same seven machines in the same order in the same gym day after day, we are now using monkey bars for pullups, swing sets for pushups, and stairs for step-ups.

The fitness world has realized that exercise doesn’t need to be limited to a series of workout machines inside a building. Fitness can be expanded to any fun, functional movement performed in the great outdoors.

3) Outdoor exercise is good for mental health

Several health benefits come from exercising outside the four walls of a traditional gym. Fresh air and sunlight boost mood, Vitamin D, and overall health.

We don’t often think about this, but most of our life is spent staring at hard lines and right angles. Houses, offices, and buildings are all built with unnaturally straight lines and angles. Lines and angles are mostly absent in nature. Trees, water, and clouds all have unusual shapes and movements, which gives the brain a break from the four walls we usually spend our life unconsciously observing. If most of your life is spent with hard lines, why not spend your exercise time with a little more diversity of shapes and movement?

4) Outdoor exercise adds workout variety

The human body is built to overcome challenges through the adaptation response. This means the more the body does something, the better it gets at doing it and, therefore, the more efficient it gets at doing it. This adaptation response is a good thing and a bad thing. Adaptation is good because it causes your body to respond, grow, and improve. The flip side is that the body needs different or more significant challenges to keep growing. That’s where variety comes in.

Diversifying exercise methods keeps the body from becoming stagnant and unresponsive. Outdoor exercise gives a wide array of options to challenge the body. You can change a wide variety of workout options by changing the location. This leads me to my final point.

5) Outdoor exercise is a refreshing change

As discussed, the human body thrives on exercise variety, and I thrive on location variety. I have a home gym in my garage and equipment in my backyard. I also love to take my workout on the road to the beach or my local park. Switching my workout location helps keep my activities fresh and offers my body a different challenge with each additional site.

Exercising in my backyard allows my children to join me on our SwingSesh (swing set/home gym combo) that offers an unlimited variety of ways to challenge my body. Taking my resistance bands to the beach for a workout adds the difficulty of exercising on an uneven surface and challenges me to find ways to exercise with limited equipment. Changing your workout location is a wonderful way to add different physical and mental challenges to your fitness program.

Everybody is different, and every body has different needs, but the one thing we all need is a fun, variety-filled, movement-based way to get fit and healthy. If you find your exercise routine stagnant, you might consider adding an outdoor workout option to your rotation. It could be just the change you need.

John T. Prather

John Prather is an author, actor, and fitness model based in Los Angeles, California. You might have seen him in Men’s Health, Muscle & Fitness, GQ magazine, or on the TV playing a superhero or advocating for foster care and adoption. He is the author of The Nephilim Virus and numerous published articles on family and fitness. The accomplishment he’s most proud of is being the father of four young children. You can find out more at johntprather.com.

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