SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Tomorrow’s workout? Just open the front door and take it outside! If you do you’ll probably burn more calories than you would at your gym.
Kathy Craft’s gym classes aren’t gym classes at all.
A foot bridge becomes a challenge; a hiking trail instead of that stair master.
“If you are in an indoor exercise class, you are watching the clock, when is this going to end, and thinking about the rest of your day, instead of being in the moment,” said Craft, a fitness instructor at Energetix Fitness.
Outdoor versus indoor workouts? Experts say calorie-wise, outdoors takes first. Moving over different terrain is tougher, the wind burns more calories, and more Vitamin D means more endorphins.
Mary Ann Ransler, who takes the class, told Ivanhoe, “Coming out here in the fresh air, it just really relieves my stress.”
Nearly a dozen studies agree outdoors beat indoors by nearly every test: increased energy and revitalization, while decreasing depression, tension, and anger. Also if you start exercising outside, you’re more likely to stick with your regimen than your indoor counterparts.
“I think people are happier when they are exercising outdoors because they’re not staring at a screen, being told what their heart rate is,” explained Rebecca Barker, M.D., internal medicine at Palo Alto Medical Foundation in California. “I think people will push themselves harder when they’re not reminded of what they’re doing.”
Finally, exercising outdoors doesn’t come with monthly dues. Also you never know who might show up to cheer you on.
Outdoor workouts can also be “family time”. Instead of yet another circuit training class, go chase your child through a park. You’ll probably burn as many or more calories.
Contributors to this news report include: Tana Castro, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; Rusty Reed, Videographer.
EXTRA BENEFITS OF OUTDOOR EXERCISE
BACKGROUND: Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It can control your weight, reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, strengthen your bones and muscles, improve your mental health and mood, improve your ability to do daily activities and prevent falls, and if you’re an older adult it can increase your chances of living longer. Also, being physically active lowers your risk for two types of cancer: colon and breast. Research shows that physically active people have a lower risk of colon cancer than do people who are not active, and physically active women have a lower risk of breast cancer. Although the research is not yet final, some findings suggest that your risk of endometrial cancer and lung cancer may be lower if you get regular physical activity compared to people who are not active. If you are a cancer survivor, research shows that getting regular physical activity not only helps give you a better quality of life, but also improves your physical fitness. All exercise is good, but there have been studies to determine if it is more beneficial to exercise outside instead of indoors.
THE STUDY: A systematic review carried out by a team at the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry has analyzed existing studies and concluded that there are benefits to mental and physical well-being from taking exercise in the natural environment. Their findings are published in the research journal Environmental Science and Technology. The research team analyzed data from a number of sources including 11 randomized and non-randomized control trials incorporating information from 833 adults. Eligible trials were those that compared the effects of outdoor exercise initiatives with those conducted indoors and which reported at least one physical or mental well-being outcome in adults or children. The study found that most trials showed an improvement in mental well-being: compared with exercising indoors, exercising in natural environments was associated with greater feelings of revitalisation, 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.
OLDER ADULTS: In a study of adults aged 66 years or older, minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity were significantly greater in those who were physically active at least once a week outdoors compared with those who were physically active indoors only. Older adults who were physically active outdoors accumulated significantly more physical activity.
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