Weekly Wellness Exercising Outdoors

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COLUMBIA - Even though I work in gyms and fitness centers, I still train plenty of clients in the good ol' outdoors. We go to a local park and use the environment (benches, stairs, playground equipment, etc.) to create our “weight machines” to complete a great workout! And my clients LOVE it.

There’s something about being outside in the sunshine and the fresh air that can invigorate and motivate us. I’ve experienced it firsthand many time, but science backs up my theory. Research found that when participants walked inside on a treadmill, they felt more fatigue, tension and anger than when they walked outside. Moreover, participants experienced less fatigue and felt happier and more invigorated outside even though their walking speed was faster than it was on the treadmill.

Several studies have shown a correlation between being outside and feeling emotionally, mentally and physically better. Being outside can provide distractions with the nature around you. Just being outside is better for our health: We get more vitamin D, our mood improves, stress levels drop, and we actually heal faster, according to research compiled by Harvard Medical School.

And don't forget about the kiddos! Exercising outdoors delivers specific benefits to children, say experts. Exercise science instructor Jennifer Flynn, PhD, points out that kids who spend more time outdoors are more physically active.

A 2011 study found that people had a greater sense of well-being less fatigue and anger, and more enjoyment—when they walked outdoors than they did when walking indoors on a treadmill. The study’s participants self-selected a higher walking speed on outdoor terrain—yet they felt the exercise was less draining and more fun.

So if you’re someone who doesn’t enjoy exercising in a gym or if you just want to try something new, head outside! Head to one of the many parks we have in Columbia. Most (if not all) have walking trails incorporated into them. Do a lap, then do lunges and squats, then do another lap, then find a bench and do some push-ups and triceps dips, then do another lap and pump your body on the swing for 2 – 3 minutes. Make it fun! (Don’t forget your water and sunscreen!