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I love the treadmill, but there are days when I am on it at the gym, where I refer to it as the “dreadmill.” There are also times where I am on the elliptical looking out the window at the beautiful mountains, saying to myself, “What am I doing in here? I should be hiking those mountains.” Now a new study in the journal of Envirnomental Science and Technology confirms my feelings. The study was conducted at the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry and compared the effects of outdoor exercise to indoor exercise. They found that there were many more psychological benefits to exercising outdoors.
The study reported on Sciencedaily.com stated that, “Most trials showed an improvement in mental well-being: compared with exercising indoors, exercising in natural environments was associated with greater feelings of revitalization, increased energy and positive engagement, together with decreases in tension, confusion, anger and depression. Participants also reported greater enjoyment and satisfaction with outdoor activity and stated that they were more likely to repeat the activity at a later date.”
I can attest to this, mostly walking outside in the beginning of my weight loss. More importantly it allowed me to enjoy nature and to get to know myself. I also found that each step was not only an exercise for the body, but also for the mind and spirit. The focus on nature allowed me to tune into myself and my surroundings. The fresh air helped stimulate my senses and give me a sense of overall well-being. Today, I continue to implement outdoor training into my routine with hiking on some of the mountain trails or just merely taking the time to go for a walk.
There is also some research being conducted that outdoor gyms can provide an added benefit to those suffering from depression. It is also a good way to combat boredom in your workouts. Each bike ride, hike or walk can be different with a different path, new terrain, trees, birds, dogs and people along the trail. Being outdoors can also help increase your body’s stores of vitamin D.